College-educated progressives and people of color MUST find ways to respect, interact with, and ally with these white working class folks.
— Noah Smith (@Noahpinion) November 19, 2016
Don’t you fucking tell me what to do, was my immediate response when I saw this tweet. Someone had quoted it and added, “LOL NO” to the tweet, which I found amusing. I was just going to move on, but something about the tweet stuck with me, so I decided to check out his TL. I found that I agreed with much of what he said, but the bad taste from his initial tweet remained in my mouth. Since I thought the person was being earnest and arguing in good faith (and had some good ideas), I decided I’d make a post in response to it and to the general notion that it’s on PoC to reach out to working class white people.
One, the tweet assumes that this isn’t already happening. It is. Some of us live in cloistered Democratic bubbles*, but many Democrats live in heavily Republican areas and have to interact with working class white people on a regular basis. Two, we’ve come to believe this idea that all opinions are equally valid. They’re not. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but that doesn’t mean their opinion is right. In addition, respect is earned. I can be civil to people who have loathsome (to me) ideas, but I don’t necessarily extend them respect.
More to the point, I’m tired of white dudes telling PoC what we have to do. If he had stopped after the first half, I would have been fine with the tweet, but it’s pretty galling for him to lecture PoC like that. There has been a lot of this going on, and I’m not here for it at all. I’m a big believer in everyone having a place at the table,** but I do think that if you’re in the majority, you should do more listening than talking. In addition, to put it bluntly, this is a white people’s problem. Yes, all of us have to deal with the ramifications of this white resentment, but the onus is on progressive white people to do something about it.