Not everyone’s cup of tea

“I find myself disagreeing with much of the content and becoming agitated, when I had hoped to become more educated. This just isn’t working for me.” – exit survey of now former BGIM patron

I started writing about race back in 2003, back when writing about race as a non-academic was far, far less of the thing it is today—and almost not a thing at all in Maine. I received my first death threat less than a year after I started writing about my life as a Black woman living in the whitest state in America.

I say that to say this: I have had to develop some thick skin to stay with this work, especially at a time when the average white person assumed that white supremacy meant I was talking about the Ku Klux Klan and not an entire intentionally designed social-political-economic system.

My work and my writing is not everyone’s cup of tea. I know this. However, this platform is about honest conversations on race. Those conversations often use personal narratives that, for myself and BGIM Media’s Black and POC writers, allow us to be real about how racism affects us and how we navigate life. For my white writers, this space allows them to share their personal narratives on their continuous journey to dismantle whiteness within themselves and their white communities.

As the creator of this space, and as the executive director of Community Change Inc, one of the oldest anti-racism organizations in the nation, I strive to make the basic tenets of anti-racism work accessible, understanding that the process of truly being an anti-racist is a lifelong journey.

We live in the house that white supremacy built. Racism will not end in our lifetimes and we cannot love our ways out of this racially inequitable system—nor can checklist our way out of racism. While I am not white, I do know from my white anti-racism colleagues that their commitment to being anti-racist is a daily struggle. Whiteness is seductive and if you aren’t diligent, you will fall back into its luring arms. To truly work to become anti-racist requires sitting with uncomfortable truths—to understand that much of what you thought to be true as a white person was a half-truth at best. Given the state of today’s textbooks, it often might all be a lie (since enslaved Africans were never “immigrants” to this country and Indigenous people didn’t just give up their land).

Racism is internal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural. Once you start to have a new lens of seeing and understanding racism and the levels at which it operates in this country, you will notice it everywhere. Our work on this site serves to shine a spotlight on the crevices where racism hides that it becomes easy not to see, much like the dust bunnies that many of us ignore in our corners.

As a Black woman, my work can assist in providing an anti-racism education, but it is ultimately up to individual white people to do their work. With that in mind, if my work or the work of our writers is upsetting and agitating to you, it can be either a potential breakthrough moment…or a sign that you aren’t ready (or willing) to go deeper.

Losing patrons is a fact of life. We hate to see people go, but circumstances do change. However, I have never had a patron tell me that they found my work upsetting (as in the introductory quote to this post). To be honest, it begs the question: How did you end up as a patron to begin with? I would hope that people support this work because they have already found it to be valuable and have some sense of what they are supporting beforehand.

To those who have stayed with BGIM Media on this journey, I thank you for your readership and support and hope that our work continues to be a part of your commitment to being an anti-racist.


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.

Photo by Kira auf der Heide from Unsplash

7 thoughts on “Not everyone’s cup of tea”

  1. I love this content even when I disagree; it’s learning, healing, venting, bowing out, stepping up, crying, cursing, praying and every other nuanced emotional attachment that comes with the territory. I hope our paths cross in a more personal way one day. I have pledged my support as a seed that I pray bears fruit in both our worlds.

  2. As a patron who is staying, and who would increase my monthly donation if it became possible, here’s my guess about why things changed for the departed donor: you added multiple authors with diverse points of view to the BIM blog. I see this as a strength but it’s definitely true that the tone of authors other than yourself, Shay, is different. Again, this is a good thing but perhaps more challenging for those of us grappling — or avoiding grappling — with our white privilege.

    Keep up the good work!

    • I agree with Lisa Savage. The other writers, particularly the white ones, particularly the “Average White Guy,” if I recall his name correctly, use a belligerent, superior tone. He doesn’t know who we are, yet he speaks to us like a drill sergeant trying to break unwilling draftees down. Supremacy in the approach doesn’t look good on a white guy, no matter what he’s intending to teach. I can resist the urge to look away or run in the face of hard truths, but I’ve stopped reading him.

      • I agree with what you wrote. I think that Average White Guy is Jeffrey Bouley who is Shay’s ex-husband. If I’m wrong with my information then please correct me. I find his tone to be frequently condescending.

  3. I agree with Lisa Savage. The other writers, particularly the white ones, particularly the “Average White Guy,” if I recall his name correctly, use a belligerent, superior tone. He doesn’t know who we are, yet he speaks to us like a drill sergeant trying to break unwilling draftees down. Supremacy in the approach doesn’t look good on a white guy, no matter what he’s intending to teach. I can resist the urge to look away or run in the face of hard truths, but I’ve stopped reading him.

    • Hmm, that’s interesting. As a white woman, I can’t say I’ve ever found Average White Guy’s tone to be belligerent. Just read thru one again and, nope, I don’t hear that at all. It is 99% likely that we bring our own biases and lens to each of these readings, and perhaps knowing he’s an average white guy and not an average white chick lends a patronizing tone to your perception. I’d be curious to know if you pretended you didn’t know the demographic of the author if it would sound different to you. My point is, if that author makes you uncomfortable, maybe that’s a good thing. Sometimes we need to sit with the discomfort and figure out our own reaction, before ascribing intention to the author. Lots to think about here, so thank you for bringing it up.

      • Admittedly, I don’t know you, Ms. Initials Only, or why I should give your absolute dismissal of my experience more weight than I give Mr. No Name Either, as you lecture me about my observations and perceptions, knowing nothing about my background or how I “sit with my discomfort” in different settings and in the face of different demographics. But you’re right about biases and lenses, so I’ll reveal mine. I no longer have the least interest in even a hint of a “mansplaining” tone. And I certainly don’t need women ‘splaining them away.

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