In the often harrowing fugue that is the internet, no one’s too surprised to find bullying running rampant and systemic racism lurking around every corner. Nor the parade of White privilege.
Some folks just try to disguise it now and then with well-meaning hashtags.
They supply links, essays, and personal examples to shed light and educate.
But “White Nonsense Roundup,” a newly launched anti-racism social media project, aims to address just that. Friends Terri Kempton and Layla Tromble have taken it upon themselves to call out fellow White people who use their social media dashboards as landfills for overtly racist comments, as well as those who simply need a quick privilege check.
“We believe it is our responsibility to call out White friends, relatives, contacts, speakers, and authors who are contributing to structural racism and harming our friends of color,” reads the Facebook page description.
Here’s how it works:
If someone is filling your dashboard with “White nonsense,” you can tag the Facebook group White Nonsense Roundup, which will then send a representative to confront the problematic post. WNR will comment directly on the post or in a private message. They supply links, essays, and personal examples to shed light and educate. They also respond to people who want clarification on an article or who have reached out to say they don’t understand something.
After reading a post WNR shared about microaggression and White fragility, one White woman left a comment requesting concrete examples because the concepts just didn’t gel for her. Immediately, representatives jumped in and provided an example: the act of letting a racist joke slide so as not to make a situation uncomfortable.
Kempton recalled, “She responded by going, ‘I get it. Thank you for doing this.’”
Actress Leslie Jones retweeted WNR after her Twitter attack. And WNR goes after #AllLivesMatter statements.
In the first week, the group amassed nearly 25,000 Facebook likes. It is now sitting at over 31,000. A core team of four people work at it, and they are currently sifting through several hundred volunteer applications.
Besides directly challenging unchecked racism, another goal is to lift the burden that falls to many people of color to repeatedly explain structural racism and create awareness of White privilege.
“I can assure you, this is not a Black versus White fight.”
“First, you have to prove that what you’re feeling and experiencing is actually happening, and [a White person] may choose to believe or not believe you,” Kempton said. “And then we’re asking for the step-by-step kind of holding someone’s hand and walking them through. And then somehow you’re supposed to have enough bandwidth and energy to reward us or praise us because we’ve chosen to talk about something you have to struggle with every day. That’s unfair.”
So WNR takes that on. It wasn’t long before their inbox filled with messages from grateful supporters.
“Please do not underestimate the importance and value of your message and mission. It is truly inspiring, and an absolute necessity,” said reader Cornell Manning in an email. “I can assure you, this is not a Black versus White fight. This is a battle between those willing to promote unity by recognizing and fighting prejudice, and those who are not.”
The organizers understand that they’re sometimes walking a fine line between being racial allies and coming across as “White saviors.” So they’ve appointed an advisory board made up of people of color to make sure they aren’t inadvertently making the problem worse.
The overall mission is to boost the signal of voices of color and connect people to resources created outside the White community. “The conversation about race can really change if White folks knew that they would be held accountable by their peers any time they said a racist joke or made an assumption about someone’s worth based on skin color,” Kempton said.
“We’re really just trying to create a space where we can have these conversations that are long, long overdue,” added Tromble.