Black Introverts, Your Voices Deserve to Be Amplified–Not Silenced

Last year, I began to share what I’ve learned about intergenerational trauma and systemic oppression. Calling out my privilege as a light-skinned Asian American, thin, and able-bodied cis woman from a middle-class family, I found myself shouting into a void. Unfortunately, the more I shared, the more vulnerable I became to the social injustice and biases I was fighting. As I neared graduation from pharmacy school, I grew silent on my blog in fear that I would be too liberal or combative to get hired in an already over-saturated job market. I felt stuck, but I recognize now that staying silent on racism is a privilege.

Why did my words feel so violent when I uttered the reality of racism? I felt aggressive and unprofessional when I said Black instead of African American and White instead of Caucasian in patient notes or during presentations. Was I out of line? The discomfort shown on the overwhelmingly White faces around me seemed to validate that fear.

It is normal to feel unsafe in a space not made for you

I realize now that my words were never violent. Dismissing the topic of race is violence in a world that profits off racial disparities in health, wealth, and education. I knew I had to welcome the discomfort in order to bring about change. Although there’s a high probability my words struck a nerve with some preceptors and colleagues, I promised myself that I would continue to do the work of educating and calling out racism through personal and professional interactions since I didn’t feel safe enough online. I’ve been waiting for the day that I could share anti-racism resources in all spaces without seeming like a performative activist or like I’m speaking on behalf of Black people. Frankly, I’ve been tired of making White people feel comfortable in a country built on Indigenous land by Black bodies that they continue to profit from to this day.

I feel it in the pit of my stomach–this is not merely the time to break silence. Now is the time to amplify the revolutionary voices that challenge White supremacist hemegony until the day White people are comfortable enough to sit with that reality and face it in their everyday lives.

I will make mistakes as an ally, and there is no doubt I will feel stuck again. However, I vow to use each moment of silence as an opportunity to rest and take care of my mind and body, so that I can continue to move forward towards a world where Black people can feel seen, heard, and loved as they’ve always deserved.

We are a community of people before we are a community of introverts

When I found out I was an introvert in 2017, I created my blog out of need for a sense of belonging. I felt isolated. I knew I couldn’t be the only one, so I searched for a community online. Introvert, Dear became a resource for me as I navigated what it means to be introverted in a world that praises extroversion. That community helped me feel safe and understood. Still, as I’ve felt with the majority of online or in-person communities, Introvert, Dear articles did not echo my voice or the voices of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

Back then, I didn’t learn the vocabulary or educate myself enough on Black and Indigenous history to understand why I should have never given Introvert, Dear all the clicks, views, and likes that I have. I was only starting to work on my personal biases and privilege in 2017. Now, I see that Introvert, Dear is another White-owned blog that silences BIPOC yet intentionally uses photos of people that look like us to continue profiting off us. I speak of BIPOC as an Asian American woman, but this post is for Black Americans as it highlights their history of strength and resilience in the face of White supremacy.

White supremacy and the White privilege that stems from it comes in many different shapes and forms. For Marilyn, a Black introvert and reader of Introvert, Dear, it showed up when she commented on Introvert, Dear‘s Instagram post, “So…You all don’t want to address the racial issues that’s impacting introverts of color?” She was addressing how Introvert, Dear continued to post on their Instagram feed and stories daily, without mention of George Floyd’s death and the uprisings happening all over the world for Black Lives Matter.

Dear White introverts, your privilege is showing

I replied to her comment and said that I called upon Introvert, Dear the day before through Instagram stories to address the inhumane acts towards Black lives. Introvert, Dear has been following my Instagram, and we’ve been sharing each other’s blog posts since I started my blog, so I hoped they’d hear me out.

Not only did they see my Instagram story and not take action, but they showed where they stand by deleting Marilyn’s comments and my replies. After shamelessly silencing a Black reader’s voice, they proceeded to post a black square on their Instagram feed for #blackouttuesday as feigned solidarity. This was performative activism without a doubt because of what they did to Marilyn and how they continued to promote Introvert, Dear blog posts on their Instagram feed and stories. They went against the very movement they claimed to support.

I was downright appalled. Marilyn’s response was that: “Sadly, this happens a lot…you think you found a community of refuge, but it ends up operating like other demeaning structures. Perhaps she’ll have a moment of deep reflection.” As I’ve read all over social media and heard from friends, Black people are just tired. They’ve grown to feel numb to the indecency that Introvert, Dear has displayed. They’ve learned to push down their cries in social spaces, like school or work, when those trained and paid to protect us have yet again taken a Black life.

Marilyn only asks for deep reflection–can you do that Introvert, Dear? Can you do that White people?

Make space for the Black introverts you profit from

Black faces and bodies have been used for profit for centuries in our country. It’s no surprise that White people can continue to profit off them from behind a computer screen. My voice in the introvert community may be small, but I will not be a bystander online or in person. I cannot watch the disgusting act of silencing Black voices and not react with rage.

A White woman is the founder of Introvert, Dear. She created a team of all White introverts to work behind her blog, Instagram, and other social media platforms. They sprinkle in some Black and Asian voices in their “Stories” section. Otherwise, their words do not reflect BIPOC voices. They continue to plaster the faces of BIPOC in advertisements and blog posts. Introvert, Dear profits off introverted BIPOC with no intention to serve them.

Making space for Black introverts does not mean asking for submissions from “introverted writers of color” as Introvert, Dear did below. You are continuing to make a profit off people of color while diminishing the Black experience. When you use a catch-all term like “people of color” without recognizing the experiences of Black lives, you are missing the point.

Lisa Hurley, a Black writer, co-host and producer of @theintrovertsisters podcast and reader of Introvert, Dear commented, “Are you still recruiting for a staff writer? Cause I know that POC applied. It would be a shame if no POC was given that opportunity pre-blackout Tuesday, but now all of a sudden they want to jump on that bandwagon.” Introvert, Dear, do yourselves a favor. Hire Black staff members, so you don’t make a fool out of yourselves again.

Stop educating on personality traits until you understand each person behind Black Lives Matter

White people behind every company, organization, blog, and social media account need to make an active effort to uplift Black communities. We must also hold them accountable for their actions and how they decide to take up space (or, in this case, diminish space) for Black voices online and in person. It is not enough to appeal to people of color by slapping an image that mimics us. We will no longer accept images of our likeness without our words to back them up. Throwing “inclusion” or “diversity” into mission statements are bandaids that can’t cover the divisiveness that benefits you.

White people must make an active effort daily to educate themselves on their White privilege. They must also take action. You can do this by using your White voices, bodies, and connections to make the world a place where Black people can feel safe. We need a world where White supremacy is shameful and condemned. I share these sentiments in hopes that Black people everywhere can wear hoodies, go running, play with toy guns, go bird-watching, and sleep without being seen as a threat.

White introverts, I will no longer hold space for you. If you haven’t already, hop off this page now and learn how to stand behind and protect Black lives. Don’t know where to start? A simple Google search for anti-racist resources may help.

Black introverts, this space is for you

Black introverts, I see you, hear you, and love you. I will never stop fighting for you. The following are resources for you, by you:

Here are Black introverts you can follow instead:

Here’s who you can follow to feel empowered while still protecting your mental health:

Join spaces made for Black introverts here:

There are also Facebook Groups for introverts by state! Here’s some I found:

I plan to add more as I continue learning and supporting. Please comment below with any online or in-person spaces and platforms that validate your experience!

#DearWhiteIntrovertsChallenge

If you’re White, introverted, and still reading, try this challenge!

  1. Keep watching Netflix, reading books or blog posts, and consuming any other content you enjoy from the comfort of your home.
  2. Each time you see a character or image of a person of color, check to see the creators, directors, or writers of that story.
  3. Ask yourself: Are they Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)? Do they represent the diverse community they write narratives for?
  4. If the answer is yes, make an active effort to continue supporting those creatives.
  5. Is the answer no? Then ask yourself: are there similar TV shows, book series, or blogs created by BIPOC that I could enjoy instead? If so, give them a chance! There’s far too much content out there to stick to the first page on Google search.
  6. Share your favorite Black creatives and repost the #DearWhiteIntrovertsChallenge

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