Prioritizing White Comfort Over Black Pain: One Year Later

Ralinda Watts
5 min readMay 25, 2021

Today, is exactly a year to the date that we all bore witness to the murder of George Floyd. In the months that immediately followed there seemed to be a sense of urgency by white people to lean into learning about systemic racism, including leaning into the work of anti-racism.

However, on this anniversary, there is a growing sentiment of an aversion when discussing race and racism, reverting to old patterns of “business as usual”: sweeping the systemic problems under the rug, and choosing to not address the proverbial elephant in the room.

And, the most recent discourse that has weaponized CRT (Critical Race Theory), with politicians introducing laws to ban CRT, even though they do not know what it is, speaks to what has always been the formula in America and what I call the process of prioritizing white comfort over Black pain.

So, what do I mean when I say prioritizing white comfort? It is the familiar denial that race and racism exist, followed by the transfer of blame onto those who are directly impacted by racism, followed by gaslighting of their experiences as truth, followed by making excuses to dodge accountability, followed by the ban or suppression of voices that seek justice and liberation.

As a Black woman that has navigated predominately white spaces my entire life, I have experienced this wash, rinse, and spin cycle. Truthfully, it is what society has been conditioned to do: center whiteness, where both my existence and survival is that of both the shield and the target. In centering you — the majority, our humanity is paralyzed with the inability to address the cumulative effects of Black pain and trauma we have experienced and continue to experience.

Yes, you know the pain I am referring to: the pain of waking up every day to a new tragedy, experiencing the deepest grief and hurt of having to witness the constant publicizing of a Black bodies that have been reduced to a trending hashtag on Twitter. You may have experienced a sliver of this pain a year ago, but the pain has never left our side, a deep excruciating pain that continues to reverberate while everyone else around us just wants to return to normal.

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Ralinda Watts

Author+Diversity Expert +Consultant+Creative +Podcaster at the intersection of Race, Identity, Culture, & Justice. Let’s be in conversation. #RalindaSpeaks