There are a few very simple things that you can make sure to not do as a non-person-of-color to avoid being perceived as racially insensitive…or, you know, just outright racist.
Using the N-word for any reason, in any capacity, is arguably at the top of the list.
Despite being provided with countless, public, examples of racially offensive language and what happens when you use it (most recently by way of the very industry that she works in), Russian fashion designer Ulyana Surgeenko decided that it was still in her best interest to include the phrase, “nigga in Paris,” in a thank you note she sent to her friend and Russian fashion entrepreneur, Miroslava Duma.
Because she’s originally from a small town.
And her daughter is half Armenian.
And she doesn’t see color.
AND Kanye West is her “favorite musician.”
Sound familiar? It should. Because we’ve heard the same, or very similar, justification from nearly every non-Black person or diversity deficient establishment who has made the decision to knowingly engage in, condone or turn a blind eye to racist behavior, before later offering bland, carefully-worded “apology” once said-behavior threatened some aspect of their livelihood.
Surgeenko even took things a step further and went to bat for her friend who posted the note on social media, suggesting that the naive nature of the gesture alone should be enough to convince us all that neither of them meant any harm or realized the consequences of their actions.
It’s also worth noting that Duma, the friend that received the note, has been accused of racisim in the past.
To all of this, we say collectively, in our best Angela Rye voices, “Bye, Girl. BYE.”
To first-time (or anytime) offenders who back up their remorseful words with consistently demonstrated efforts to ensure that racially offensive behavior has no place in their future rather than trying to justify it, we welcome the dialogue and we applaud you.
Unfortunately, as we’ve learned time and time again, there are also people who know they shouldn’t do, say, or co-sign things that are overtly, undeniably racist AF will continue to pretend that this is something they just learned in 2018. But that doesn’t mean we have to be an accessory to their short-lived moment of enlightenment — or validate their unapologetic apologies.
And so, we won’t.