12 Step Program for White Women (#293)


  1. PUT DOWN THE PHONE. Yeah, I know you are in mid-text to the one Black woman you know from work five years ago, or the PTA, or from your kids’ dance class/ baseball team/ Girl Scout troop. STOP. Sure, someone on social media said “check in with your Black friends.” But you aren’t friends. You are, at best, acquaintances. If you were friends, you’d know she’s exhausted by all the other white women texting her. What you really want is to know that you are a “good” white person and she doesn’t hate you. Here’s the thing: a) you probably microaggressed the shit out of her because all of us white people do it, and b) you’re expecting more unpaid labor from a Black woman. Which brings us to…
  2. DO YOUR OWN WORK. Pretend you are back in school. You were probably a  good student and the teachers loved you because you were a white woman with an A+ in people-pleasing. You never cheated (although you undoubtedly gave an undeserving mediocre white male the answers at least once). So why are you now asking Black women for the answers? Come on. Think about how pissed off and resentful you are daily because your white husband automatically expects you to handle all the kids’ activities, schooling, and healthcare while keeping the house clean, providing meals, and serving as household counselor/ cheerleader. Now, imagine he comes back from a long business trip and says, “Hey, I saw this article about how women do all the emotional labor. I didn’t bother to actually read it, but give me a pat on the head for noticing it and explain it all to me, please.” If you weren’t so tired, you’d throw something at your idiot husband. And he’d fucking deserve it. Well, Black women are about a thousand times more tired than we are, which you will understand if you…
  3. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.  Read at least two books on the current New York Times Non-Fiction Bestseller List. Yes, the NYT is biased and totally cheats BIPOCs (when you your homework you will know what BIPOC means) by switching their criteria to favor white authors. However, the non-fiction section is currently dominated by Black Americans writing about race relations because the other 4.0 white people are finally doing their long overdue reading for Honors English.
  4. DO MORE HOMEWORK. Once your head stops spinning after you finish at least 2 books from #3, read The Hate You Give. It’s easier going and reading fiction is supposed to increase empathy. Yes, of course you are a very empathetic person, but crying over Subaru commercials and rescued animals is not the same as understanding the effects of systemic racism on a visceral level. Ask yourself why you were more outraged over the police shooting dogs than Walter Scott. Or De’Von Bailey. And then…
  5. ACKNOWLEDGE COMPLICITY.  We swallowed the white supremacist narrative that Black Americans deserve the violence meted out by racist cops. And yes, we should have done better. Get yourself some tissues and have a good cry, but do NOT, under any circumstances, call your Black acquaintance and sob over this epiphany. They’ve spent a lifetime surviving what we just learned. They’re too busy giving their offspring “The Talk” to give us absolution. Instead…
  6. TALK TO YOUR OWN OFFSPRING. Since you’ve done your homework, you now know that it is on you to cover all the material state textbooks leave out (some states more than others, TEXAS). There are statues of slave traders, Confederate generals, and Christopher Columbus coming down all over. Use these exciting visuals of destruction as a starting point. End with a comparison between the United States and Germany. (Hint: Germany apologized for the Holocaust, banned the Nazi salute, and DOESN’T have Hitler statues).
  7. CALL OUT YOUR PARENTS. Repeatedly. Don’t let them get away with perpetuating the “by my own bootstraps,” myth or any other racist crap. Overwhelm them with your homework facts. Use the parental controls on their remote to keep them from watching Fox News. Until they shape up, withhold grandchildren on the grounds that you do not want your children to be brainwashed into evil. Never excuse them with bullshit about “but they’re good people,” who would “give you the shirt of their backs.If they excuse the violence perpetrated on Black bodies, and/or putting kids in cages, they are white supremacists and fascists. Would you let your kid hang out with the KKK or Hitler?
  8. CALL OUT ALL THE RACISTS ALL THE TIME. This is probably the hardest part for us. We’ve been trained to be good hostesses. We smooth things over. We don’t create scenes. We’re gonna have to get over that–fast. If we aren’t making white people uncomfortable, we are not doing the work.
  9. PROTEST. THEN CHANNEL YOUR INNER KAREN TO COMBAT POLICE BRUTALITY. Policing is done at the local level. Instead of calling the police on Black Americans enjoying life, call your mayor. Call your city council, and your police commissioners. Attend their Zoom meetings. Identify yourself as a constituent and then, because you did your homework, point out how much goddamned money is spent on the police—especially their unnecessary military gear and their pensions. Since every city will be facing huge revenue shortfalls this year, there is no better time to demand a massive reduction in the police budget. Push for social services and education instead of police!
  10. DONATE. If you’re worried about being scammed, start here. Always, always google organizations. A little research can save you from financing some problematic activist’s failed mountain climbing expedition instead of a solid organization.
  11. FOLLOW BLACK WOMEN–especially on Twitter. (If you haven’t found them by now, you got an F on your homework. Go back to #2 and start over.) Staying current on events and the conversation is vital; it will keep you from embarrassing yourself or donating to the failed mountain climbing dude. Centering and listening to Black voices is even more important, and we’re really, really bad at it. WARNING: never, ever insert yourself in the conversation—Twitter will drag you deservedly and mercilessly. Just listen. Learn. Consider events and history from a non-white perspective. Retweet. Amplify. Repeat.
  12. NO TITLES. Maybe we did the work and feel like we deserve a treat. Resist. Never, ever call yourself “an ally.” Nor “an accomplice.” Why? If we only did the work to signal our virtue, we’re assholes, not allies. But most of all…

“Ally” is the one title no white person can bestow.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

40 thoughts on “12 Step Program for White Women (#293)”

  1. I especially like #4 and #7. We’re all screwed-up people, it’s just that some of us own the mistakes while other deny there were/are mistakes. Entirely different mindsets.

    As for not calling yourself an “Ally”… well, that’s kind of difficult for me, but I take your point.

    1. 1) Not presuming to speak for all Black women, because no marginalized community is a monolith. But the Black women I know in real life and follow on social media are very, very tired of all the white women who suddenly texted/ called/ or asked for reading lists/ help understanding Black anger. I told one friend, worn out by the onslaught, to refer these women to me for reading lists. And so this post was born. She has a handy link now if she wants it.

      2) My readers ARE mostly white women, what with my blog being titled “When west dates east” with stories about Asian Male/White Female couples. Not sure why you would ask that question without doing the bare minimum of looking at my home page?

      1. I have looked at your home page. My family, half of which are Chinese American finds it offensive that you are speaking for another race.

        1. Asking, “who are you to speak for Black women?” is legit, given that I’m white. We do center ourselves and talk over Black voices when our goal should be to amplify Black voices, especially when it comes to systemic racism and police brutality. In my post, though, I recommend and link to numerous Black authors. Do you think Black authors don’t want white people to buy and read their books? How is promoting the books, organizations, and work of Black Americans “speaking for another race” when I’m telling readers to listen to Black Americans speaking for themselves?

          Did you even read the whole post? Or are you just mad that another white woman is all “you should do this!” and you’re looking for excuses not to listen?

          Because we do talk a lot. It’s a legitimate gripe.

          Question, though–you say that all the Chinese-Americans in your family find “speaking for another race” offensive. Did you actually poll all of them about my blog post? That’s flattering.

          1. I wish you well and hold you in my prayers. You seem unhappy and I’m sorry for that. I hope you find kindness in your heart and you can see life and your fellow humans through the lens of love and a release of anger. That shift will help you be a patient parent and partner as well. Peace.

    2. That’s an interesting question, what is your reasoning behind it? My impression is that you are being critical of this post, is this your intent?

      In my opinion, these rules could apply to anyone, although I would do less crying and more sighing with frustration.

      As a PoC I’ve been lucky in my encounters with racism(in UT of all places). It’s been minor, with the childhood teasing, staring, doing the pulled back eyes, jokes, or the best one, compliments on my excellent English….*sigh Thankfully even those situations have trended downwards over the years, with the Asian population tripling in size in the state(1% to 3% woo). I have noticed that people have stopped asking where I am from, and just assuming I’m a native Utahn.

  2. I’m not the target demographic here, but nonetheless this is an important read. I think we should all do our part to dissuade our parents from ever watching Faux News again.

  3. I am an immigrant, a minority, and I am tired of being judged by the wasp culture. My ancestors have been persecuted for centuries in Europe: we have survived pogroms, expulsions, Holocaust. I have experienced a lot of “microagressions” from “merry christmas” to explaining to people who I am, yet I am seen as evil.

    I have majored in history, I read dozens of multicultural stories by Asian authors and few African/African American authors to figure out why the world is structured this way.

    Whites are not monolith. We also have our hierarchy of who’s on top and who is on the bottom, yet no one cares. And guess what, my ancestry, according to this hierarchy will fall to the bottom, to the untouchables of old.

    1. Thank you for providing a perfect example of white woman centering themselves.

      I guess it’s not surprising, given that you commented on my post about gender/ binary titles by rationalizing your transphobic views because you felt trans people were mean to you when you espoused anti-trans views.

      Every conversation about other marginalized communities comes back to you, and how you are hurt and micro-aggressed and should therefore be above any judgment, real or perceived. Your logic seems to be, “No one can tell me what to do because I am more victimized than you and that’s just how the world works.” And yes, I’m white and not Jewish. If you want to listen to a Jewish woman, fantastic. Here’s a rabbi that I follow on Twitter. Maybe you will find her helpful.

      But the fact that you immediately centered yourself and your pain in a conversation about providing support for Black women in particular? Don’t do that here, or anywhere. All that does is signal that that you are looking for excuses to NOT support them. As does the fatalistic whine, “this is how the world works, no sense in trying to change it?”

      No one (besides the current Nazi-white supremacists) is saying the Jewish people have not suffered. Anti-semitism is real. The micro-aggressions you’ve gotten are undoubtedly real.Russian pogroms were real. The Holocaust was real; it is universally acknowledged by almost all countries. There have been apologies and reparations by Germany.

      Black Americans have never gotten that. They got Jim Crow. They got the Tulsa Massacre. They got lynchings. They got redlining, segregation, and a school-to-prison pipeline. They fear for their lives every time they see a cop, and with good reason.

      Do you?

      I am amazed that you can be so petty and short-sighted as to cop the attitude that, “Well, my people suffered and there is still anti-immigrant and antisemitic sentiment and so why should I care about the struggles of Black Americans who are systematically murdered by police or re-enslaved in the private prison system in the United States?”

      But since that’s your attitude, let me answer:
      1) Murdering and enslaving people is wrong,
      2) Tolerating it for any reason makes you complicit, and
      3) What makes you think you aren’t next?

      You have a son who is mixed race. Do you think, in their quest for a white state with white voters who will keep their white asses in power, that the GOP will hesitate to strip you and your son of your U.S. Citizenship if they perceive you to be a threat to their power?

      If you think you and your son are safe, well, you can join the hundreds of recent Chinese-American immigrants and Southeast Asian immigrants who think their model minority status and wealth will protect them.

      Japanese-American citizens know differently. They remember having their rights and property stripped away and being sent to internment camps. They have been out protesting, because like many Americans, they know on a visceral level that the once the police and the state have the power to deprive any single person of their rights, EVERYONE is at risk.

      Just like this Holocaust survivor who came out to support Black Lives Matter.

      1. You seriously think I’m that deluded? I know I’m not safe in USA. I know very well how laws change which means means what’s acceptable isn’t. I know I won’t be safe in Europe. I know that words are just words with little meaning behind them. I also know that angry and destructive attitudes is one that pushes people away, and makes everyone complicit.

        Please delete my above comment. Or if not, remove my identifying information. All I can see is how pointless it is to discuss things with people, which is what we are encouraged to do? But if we do, then we get shouted down and abused?

        1. You are actually safer in the US right now than anyone who doesn’t look white. There is definitely antisemitism, especially visible in the alt-right communities, but you’re not likely to be verbally abused or Febreezed like Asian Americans, or illegally detained/ shot by the police like Black Americans. Because, you know, white privilege.

          And speaking of privilege, you are ESPECIALLY privileged if you think someone telling you you’re wrong and pointing out your privilege is “abuse”. You came to my blog post and felt entitled enough to say 1) You’re wrong, 2) I’m victimized and you shouldn’t tell me what to do, and 3) My pain is what’s important here, not Black women. And you think me pushing back and saying, “Don’t bring that poor-white-me attitude to this post on centering Black voices” is abuse?

          No. Having racist/ sexist obscenities shouted at you in real life or on the internet is abuse.

          This isn’t abuse, this is me calling you on the white twists and turn you make to excuse yourself from taking any responsibility or making any improvements in our crappy racist system.

          Take your rationalization of your own desire to not do a darn thing in my post by saying that someone’s anger/ attitude “makes everyone complicit.” This is a handy way of absolving yourself, yet again, of having to do any work, gain any empathy, or challenge your own bias–because the people who point out your lack of compassion and excuses didn’t do it nicely enough. They hurt your feelings. And they didn’t say sorry!

          Ah, white woman victimhood. Classic, indeed. If anyone ever needed to read “White Fragility” with an open mind, it would be you.

          I hope you do the work instead of whining about being victimized by the mean people who point out you have some work to do.

            1. Once again, you want someone else to do all the work for you. So no, I will not purchase and send you the books. Use a local library. And two I will not spend an hour or two hunting up every single comment you made on my blog and deleting it.

    2. If you consider “Merry Christmas” a micro aggression, you’ve got some work to do on yourself. After all, Jesus was a Jew who influenced the entire planet, so you should be proud in principle, or just understanding that most people say “Merry Christmas” out of habit, with no intention to offend you. I bet some don’t even know that you don’t celebrate it. BTW, I’m an atheist who says “Merry Christmas” to others out of habit. If I see a Hanukkah on someone’s desk, I’ll probably say Happy Hanukkah! And if people wish me “I hope Santa will bring you a nice present!” I don’t feel offended that they may consider me delusional.
      The vast majority of groups on this planet have been oppressed at one point or another. Some by their own, some by other groups. That’s how humanity got here, through millennia of savage wars, enslaving, religious persecution, human exploitation. We are lucky to live in an era of relative peace compared to the past. Let’s not get hung up in the past by bringing forward hate and blame. They had different values, they honored killings (see the monuments built in Rome, in France, etc.). Let’s look around us, identify the current social injustices, and think how we can all help each other without picking the victim side, because we are all victims or descendants of victims. The past is in the past, we need to learn from it, not to use it as an excuse for inaction. What if women said “well, black men had the right to vote before me, so…I am a bigger victim.” Or what if the entire planet said “well, we are the chosen ones by your god, your eternity is in good hands, and your god decides your path, so why blame others for what happened to you?”

      If it helps you to identify with a group, that’s up to you, but let’s step in the 21st century and look at each other as human beings, and see how we can help those in need. Access to education, food, clean water, career development and getting away from “I am better than you.”

      1. @Maple Seriously, I should be flattered that jesus was a Jew? It’s the same as saying hey you should be flattered that Nazis are Christians! While I agree with a lot what you wrote, I can’t agree with your dismissal of mine pain and anger. You didn’t have christians who told you that you are going to hell your whole life; you didn’t learn history where the group you belong to you are ALWAYS the victim and never the victor. You can have an excuse to distance yourself from trauma and horror that is done to you by others. Holocaust? Others did it. Pogroms? Not my fucking fault. I can’t distance myself from it. You can be comfortable standing in line with a person who is tattoed with a swastika. I cant be. I am afraid for my life.

        I also find it funny that the woman here stands up for blacks yet doesn’t stand up for Jews or say or ,mention how harmful a comment is like that to someone of Jewish ethnicity and beliefs.

        You are all a bunch of hypocrites.

  4. Humans have tried to change the world for thousands of years, yet it’s always a failure. If thousands of years have produced nothing but failure and the US vs them mentality, what will this accomplish? Apparently 1991 LA Riots have done nothing for African/African Americans.

    Also, if someone would have asked me questions about Judaism, I would answer them as best as I could. I would not be so aggressive as you, even if I didn’t like them, and whatever happened to agree to disagree mentality?

    I have reasons to be fatalistic; history and life taught me that nothing truly changes; we just learn to hide things better. Also, I am surprised there is no talk or mention of Native American suffering.

    I owe them a lot more than to African/African-Americans…

    1. Ah, fatalism and “whataboutism.” These are also classic white patterns of behavior to avoid listening to Black voices and fighting racism.

      First. The world HAS changed. Women can own property! Black Americans aren’t property! Do you think this would have changed without sustained effort? Or violence? It would not and it did not. Clearly, people can change society for the better. To excuse inaction with fatalism is to dodge to personal responsibility for the current state of society.

      Second, “what’s changed since 1991?” SO. MUCH. Cell phones and social media now prove that, OMG! The entire Black community wasn’t lying about police brutality. Right now, while the entire world is watching, and we still have cops shooting, hitting, and abusing U.S. citizens. White people can now see, in real time, just how out-of-control police departments have gotten.

      Now, add to that the Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’s March, and March for Our Lives. Black Lives Matter called out the Women’s March for not showing up for them, and a lot of white women took a hard look at themselves and said, “Shit. You’re right. We’re gonna do better.” I’ve seen both March for Women and March for Our Lives amplify Black Lives Matter. All three organizations have worked hard with other grassroots groups to get more women, especially Black women, into elected offices.

      As for the most obvious change since 1991? These protests are everywhere, not confined to Los Angeles. Every state has protests, even the little white ones. Every major city has multiple protests. Europe, New Zealand, and even JAPAN has protests. There are more donations than bail funds and GoFundMes can handle. The support for Black Lives Matter is widespread and finally stretches across all races.
      Onto “whataboutism.”

      There is no question that Native American communities have suffered and continue to suffer, especially with COVID-19. They’ve even had to take the Trump administration to court to get the very funds that Congress approved for them.

      As far as Judaism goes, if you want to put up a post educating folks, I will read it and probably learn something.

      But this post was not about Judaism. It was not about the ongoing challenges to the sovereignty of the Native American tribes. And to say, “Well, what about THIS marginalized group? You didn’t cover THEM, so why should I do anything about Black Americans?” is, yet again, to find an excuse to do nothing.

      So my question is: why so many excuses? Why don’t you want to educate yourself, support, and fight for Black lives?

    1. Delete my comments. Block my IP from your blog. Delete my comments. Block my IP from your blog

  5. I am sorry that I was a fucking racist terf bitch and I am sorry I bothered to engage you in a human conversation because I am a fucking racist terf. But delete my comments please.

  6. Spot on Autumn! I need to mail a copy of this post to every white woman in Utah if I can. I think the most shocking response I’ve gotten out of the whole BLM incident is how some acquaintances in Utah, who claim they are not racist, tout ‘all lives matter’ on FB incessantly. I think much of it is just them being uninformed, to which they need to do at least a handful of the steps listed on this post.

    1. Yeah, in the past it was pretty easy to deny racism and anti-blackness, especially if you lived in a white state. But now? With social media and the cellphones catching everything? Conservatives have to twist themselves in knots to excuse police brutality and racism against Black Americans.

      But Utah has actually had several police shooting of white people that were really questionable, too. You’d think the white people would want that investigated!

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