Even In Social Justice Movements, Black Pain for White Gain


Letter from Birmingham Jail

By Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 16 April 1963

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Good people don’t use the pain of others to get what they want.

As long as I have been engaged in social justice work, Black women & sometimes Black people as a whole, have been used so much more than we have been aided & supported.

Some of the white people who purport to be your allies, your defenders, your back ‘gotters’,….. will use racism that Black people experience to further their own agenda or get what they want.

Meanwhile…….some of these folks will not stand with you to help you get what you need to gain equality, justice, or better health and safety.

And reparations? Absolutely not.

Even more, they don’t know what issues, challenges, & obstacles the Black people they align themselves with are up against and ….too often we find that they do not care.


I’ll never forget the unconcerned, “I couldn’t care less” look thrown my way by a white woman colleague.

At a training, she had asked me how I was feeling that morning. I shared that I was frustrated about what I saw as law enforcement being too casual about a missing Black boy whose mother was murdered by her boyfriend.

My colleague gave me an unmistakable look of lack of concern. “I don’t care.”

News of the death of my cat would have garnered……something.

She said nothing but made certain that I received the message in her extended stare.

Noted, but hurt.

I had recent suspicions about her true feelings, but now I knew. This was about money & virtue signaling for her. The “appearance” of being against racism.

This was a colleague that I had previously been doing organized & well-funded work around discrimination & bias in violence against women services.

It was not the first time I had an experience like that and to date; it hasn’t been the last.

People act clueless about racism when Black people *need* you to understand it. When our lives are on the line. Under pressure. Literally under the gun.

Can’t understand. But when some white folks need us to further an unpopular agenda they become as brilliantly fluent in racism as Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer & Dr. King.


Today there continue to be people, some who call themselves feminists, who use Black women as examples & illustrations to get justice for other issues, challenges, & groups. BUT, still leave Black women behind

— -Don’t hire Black women to speak

— -Don’t hire Black women to as consultants, writers, etc….

— -Don’t cite the valuable work of Black women

— -Don’t listen to the Black women in their vicinity to inquire about their main issues or concerns.

— -Don’t donate to grassroots Black women’s


— -Don’t join us in activism/advocacy against:

Black femicide,

Black women’s pay gap,

lack of diversity in publishing,

Black maternal health crisis,

Black women’s reproductive health issues,

improvement of education for Black students to include safety,

the Black girl’s abuse to prison pipeline,

improved safety & opportunities for Black women & Black girls…….etc.

For some people, even people in the social justice movements, the only people who should ever gain from Black pain…are white people.

Do you think that we can change that? Do you think that you can do something to help change that?

Good people don’t use the pain of one group just to benefit people in another group.

Do better, please.

Note: Being related or married to a Black person doesn’t make you a Black person.