If a person of color opens up to you about their experiences, they have a level of trust in you as an individual. There is no need to put yourself at the center and offer anecdotes to show how YOU are “not like that”. Also, there is no quicker way to derail your friend’s point.
And if you don’t see color, there is no need to balance the scales with the “not all whites”, “not all men”, “not all police officers”, sentiments when activists initiate discussions about systemic oppression. We all live in the same society and are surrounded by mainstream news media. The greater society has, does and will make that point to all of us every day without your help.
For real, it’s HARD to realize when the reason we are squirming is because for once, whether or not our feelings will be hurt is not the central most important thing in any conversation. It stops feeling right somehow! What we ARE used to, is feeling benevolent because we are engaged in the conversation, at all.
As non-POC, nothing prepares us for having to suppress our own natural tendency to take offense. To learn how to do that, we need only ask a member of any oppressed group. To keep a job, be a customer, walk down the street, live life, lesson the chances of getting thrown in jail for nothing – for them, it is a necessary skill.
How on earth do you avoid getting offended all the time with:
**Assumptions made about your opinions, because you are a member of this or that group?
**Assumptions made about your interests, because you are a member of this or that group?
**Ignorant questions asked of you?
**Generalizations made in your presence?
They might agree to school you. Or better yet, do your own research.
Point is: We aren’t used to it. It’s hard to realize how quickly we rise to our own defense when the conversation does not have straight, white society at the center. Our peace is disturbed. Stop it. Step down a peg. Take a seat.