Here's Why We're Tired of White Folks Playing Dumb About Racism

As long as they "don't know," they will never be held accountable

Allison Wiltz
Published in
5 min readOct 13, 2021


Photo by Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash

Since the racial reckoning began, Black folks have compiled numerous resources to "teach" White people about racism, why it's harmful, and what they can do to fight against injustices. But, like many Black people, I'm having trouble believing that White people don't know all of this already.

Also, isn't it kind of condescending to speak to them as if they don't know? Research shows White babies can distinguish between races as early as five months old, discrediting the notion that some White people don't see race. The cat is out of the bag, so it doesn't make much sense for White people to play dumb.

Remember what happened at Elementary school dances? All the boys went to one corner, and the girls went to to the other. We were wallflowers back then. But, it seems like that same hesitancy we had when first approaching members of the opposite sex is at play here.

When it comes to dismantling racist systems and practices, White people keep tip-toeing towards the line, and Black people, not wanting to scare them off, tiptoe at that same pace. But I can't help but think we're doing it all wrong. We're not dancing our problems away because White folks don't want to face the music. They will never approach that line as long as they pretend they didn't know we were having a sockhop in the first place.

We don't have to talk down to White people and pretend they don't know. Can you imagine an abused wife talking to her husband about abuse as if he isn't aware he slaps her silly on Sundays? It wouldn't make much sense to act like he didn't know. It would make much more sense to pack a bag, and head somewhere sunny to get your groove back.

So, why is it that when it comes to racism, we keep taking one step forward and two steps back? Simply put, the idea of "teaching" White people gives them the space to grow, which leads to progress. But there's a downside as well — it also gives them the space to embrace denialism. It's time for us to do a cost-benefit analysis of this strategy because too many White people keep embracing…



Allison Wiltz

Womanist Scholar bylines @ Momentum, Oprah Daily, ZORA, GEN, EIC of Cultured #WEOC Founder