An Open Essay About My Experiences with the White Moderate

By Stephanie Younger • 

The most disheartening racism I experienced was by the white moderate, by the white progressive who claims to believe Black lives matter to them, and the white feminist who claims to be an ally, until proven otherwise. In 1963, MLK wrote about the white moderate in “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”:

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride towards freedom is not the White Citizens Counciler, or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace, which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice.”

Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King (1963)

To the white student activists who accused me of attacking them because I called them out for reducing my Black experience to a thing of the past; You claimed you “loved the power of Black female voices,” but completely dismissed my Black female voice, by saying “not much racism at your school,” by saying the Black lives matter movement didn’t get the attention they deserve because “they didn’t protest in a way people weren’t open to.” When I challenged you, you branded me with stereotypes that Black girls are labeled with; “angry,” “confrontational” and “violent.”

To my white friends and neighbors who suddenly care about gun violence, now that they have started to notice that it affects their community; You skipped the Black Lives Matter protests that have been happening over the past six years, but carved time out of your weekend to go to the March For Our Lives. Of the thousands of people that were there, I got six people to stand with the Black youth who have been marching for their lives for the longest. Even though Black youth are the reason you “wear orange” for “gun control,” you praised the white youth who became the face of this movement.

To the white feminist who showed up for the Women’s March, but not for me when she saw me experiencing racism; When I called out that white woman for her racism, talking about my hair, and calling me lazy, she accused me of attacking other people and acting out. When I called you out for your silence on what you knew was happening, you said to me, I’m really sorry you feel that way.

To my white and non-Black childhood friends of color who unfollowed me on Instagram because I talk about race, more specifically the white girls in my art classes who made a political statement about feminism by celebrating white womanhood; When I made a political statement about womanism, it offended you so much, that you, along with several of my childhood friends disowned me. At first I was offended. Then I realized that you didn’t love me for me. Now that I’m comfortable with my Blackness, you don’t love me anymore. I have unlearned the hate you have given me.

Stephanie Younger is a 16-year-old who advocates for womanism and the abolition of youth prisons.