Wake Up: For White Folks in Denial About Racism

An open letter from Urban Cusp’s founder and publisher to the “This Is Not About Race” trolls who have been flooding Urban Cusp’s comment threads and inbox, as well as to those who accuse Urban Cusp of race baiting for covering cases of brutality.


For those who argue that all these reports of police brutality against black men and women are merely about “excessive force” and never about race – I sincerely ask – how is your willful denial and naiveté benefiting you? What would you gain if the world really believed your fantasies of a color-blind society?

Why do you only care about “black on black” violence when black death makes the headlines? Should we speak of white on white violence in relation to white males who kill masses of innocent civilians? People don’t because it would be cruel, tactless and irrelevant.

Why do you think that honoring the lives of black men and women who were brutally murdered by the officers paid to protect them means that invalidates white lives and tragedies? If you really are passionate about “media balance,” please take your concerns to Hollywood, the mainstream press and to all the major cable networks who perpetually privilege the lives, voices, experiences, beauty and success of our white brothers and sisters. Where is your righteous indignation when black folks are disproportionately depicted as criminals, video vixens and savages? Instead, anger swells when innocent African Americans who died brutally are depicted as victims.

What is it about the fear of African Americans being humanized and people being willing to fight on their behalf that draws masses of trolls to the Urban Cusp page? There is no way we can be silent when an unarmed kid is shot 11 times (back turned, hands up and eventually down to his knees), left uncovered in the middle of the street for hours and then tossed into a SUV without so much as a decent police report. And if that wasn’t a human rights crisis within itself, weapons of war deemed unfit for international warfare are used against the people who sought to demand justice for his murder. Your inability to see this as an atrocity speaks to your own racism and inherent fear/hatred of black people. That or even the United Nations is on the race-bating conspiracy.

As a faith-based media outlet, we believe in one human family and that there are ties that bind us all through our shared human experience. But “as for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Calling out racism is more of a Christian act than denying that it exists. If you don’t believe that, what version of the Bible are you reading?

One person even asked us, WWJD (what would Jesus do?) The Jesus I know and love, who was the greatest freedom fighter, healer and community organizer to ever live would do exactly what he did when he was with us on earth – he would honor the humanity of the outcast, challenge us to see ourselves in “the other,” speak out against the empire and resist the status quo. If that’s not your Jesus, then I don’t know nor want to get to know the one you serve.

For those who have in fact been angered enough to the point of action or who have had their consciousness recently raised in the last two years, please do not let anyone shame you into silence. Silence is similar to complicity. By not speaking out, we silently sanction the horrors in our nation and dishonor the lives of the slain.

Time to wake up!

Rahiel Tesfamariam is a public theologian, social activist, writer and speaker. She is also a former columnist for The Washington Post and founder/ publisher of UrbanCusp.com, a cutting-edge online lifestyle magazine highlighting progressive urban culture, faith, social change and global awareness. Visit Rahiel.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @RahielT.