I came across a Washington Post article titled “No hate crime convictions for white San Jose State students who clamped black roommate in bike lock.” If you think I almost flipped over a table before I finished reading, you’d be correct. It’s been a while since I read the article, but I am still boiling mad, so here you go. Also, I had two separate thoughts, and the other piece is here: Bike locks, hate crimes, and the casualness towards black bodies.
During Fall 2013, Donald Williams Jr, a Black then-freshman student at San Jose State University, was heavily harassed by his White roommates.And when I say “heavily harassed,” I mean they did things like put his neck in a bike lock. Among other things. Yes. Among other racist things. A few weeks ago, the Santa Clara County Jury found the roommates guilty of a misdemeanor, but not a hate crime. Because, of course, these nice young men’s actions have nothing to do with race! They’re just friendly pranks!
One of the arguments in the case? One of the roommates, Colin Warren couldn’t be racist, because he was “dating an African American woman and did not want his relationship to end.” Yes, this was an actual sentence in the article, an actual ARGUMENT in the case. Although you, Warren, called your roommate multiple racial slurs and put him in a LOCK, you’re obviously immune to racism because you have a Black girlfriend. Go ahead, Warren! Assume you’re not guilty.
Dear White suitors near and far (and, I guess, attorneys of White suitors): We, your significant others and/or dates of color, are not your free pass to perpetuate your ignorance. Please don’t use us as mere pawns to defend your racism, as excuses to say ridiculous things and be extremely offensive. Just stop.
Dating us will never make it okay to say racist slurs. Being with us does not mean you’ve evolved, that you’ve done all the self work, that you’re now the perfect allies to all people of color. And for God’s sake, being our partners does not mean you’re “basically ____” or “pretty much ____” or “____er than us!” Sleeping with us doesn’t grant you an understanding into our struggles, just as me sleeping with a neurosurgeon does not make me qualified to operate on brains. Your privilege does not disappear. Please own this.
We are not your free pass to perpetuate your ignorance. We are not badges you can wear, not a get-out-of-jail card so people can ignore your prejudice. You cannot do something, such as, I don’t know, LOCK YOUR BLACK ROOMMATE IN A U-LOCK or WRITE THE N-WORD ON HIS WHITEBOARD, and expect not to be held responsible for your hate crimes because you happen to take us out to dinner. No, no no.
Honestly, the argument Warren’s attorney presented in court is baffling (and upsetting, and just plain dumb), but I’m honestly not surprised the attorney tried to use this. Claiming Warren couldn’t be racist because he had a Black girlfriend has the similar distinct melody of “I’m not racist, I have Black friends, ” or “How can I be racist when my second-cousin’s best friend’s Asian ex-boyfriend is great and we’ve talked three times and I’m planning on inviting him to my book group I’M A GOOD PERSON.” As if being kind to one person or knowing one person makes you immune to racism towards anyone else. Not only does this make sense, but it also tokenizes your boo/friend/squash partner of color. You’re saying that they are some kind of trump card to distance yourself from the word “racist” without examining the impact of your actions.
But we’re not trump cards. We are human.
We are not your free pass to perpetuate your ignorance.
For an on-point article with a similar topic, please read “F*cking a Black Person Does Not Mean You Fight For Black Lives.” As the title suggests, no. No it does not.