For some white people, protests and the death of George Floyd launched a new wave of allyship. But for many Black people, this recognition is long overdue. And it can be taxing to discuss a still-lived experience with those learning about racism for the first time.
For author Damon Young, these conditions created even more of a particular type of uncomfortable conversation. Young calls it SCAR, short for Serious Conversation About Racism. It’s when white people will try talk with him, about race, in the middle of a grocery store aisle or even during a colonoscopy.
While Young describes this moment in American history as “the greatest sociopolitical uprising since the 1960s,” he says it’s time to retire the SCAR, unless you’re willing to pay him.
Here’s what he wrote about SCARing for The New York Times.
The white people who do this don’t realize (or maybe just don’t give a damn) that we’re on different timelines. You learned yesterday what white privilege means? Great! Welcome to 1962. This, however, doesn’t mean I need to engage you about it today. Or tomorrow. Or ever. And most important, maybe I’m out walking, shopping or playing with my children, or out just, I don’t know, staring at a fire hydrant because I want to give myself a break from writing about, from speaking about, from thinking about and from raging about racism, and you’re asking me to work for you for free. And that’s what it is: work. Free labor. An absolution device for your conscience, provided by me, shipped for free. There’s nothing inherently valuable for me out of that exchange. I don’t have a bucket list. But if I did, a 17-minute conversation about lynching, while in line for ice cream, wouldn’t be on it.
We talk with him about that and more.