A White Girl Slid Into My DMs

…and I encourage more to do the same!

Michelle Saahene

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It’s to be expected that strangers will direct message you when you become a public activist or figure. I enjoy the dialogue, and I’m more than happy to have conversations about race relations with anyone with an open mind. One direct message on Instagram in particular left a lasting impression on me. A white girl slid into my DM’s asking for relationship advice for her and her black boyfriend. I am not a inter-racial relationship expert. If you don’t know, I’m the woman who called out the discrimination of two black men who were arrested in a Philly Starbucks in April 2018 for not buying a coffee. Our message is specifically about using your own privilege for progress to be fight racism. Since I’ve never met this young woman, I was a bit perplexed by the message. Before I responded, I thought long and hard about how to address it. Let me give you some background in what I had been learning about white women since becoming an activist.

I was spending much of my time learning about white culture and unconscious bias. What particularly struck a cord with me was learning about intersectionality in the feminist movement. I learned that Susan B. Anthony told the black women to march in the back. I learned that at times white women lean on black women for advice, inspiration and strength, but don’t include them in their intimate friendship circles. I started to comb through the friendships and interactions with white women in my life, and I quickly realized I had been experiencing this lack of inclusion for years.

Before I became an activist and national speaker on anti-racism, I thought I was destined to be a life coach. It was common for me to meet strangers and soon after they were giving me their life stories. People would come to me for advice after not speaking to me for weeks or months, and my love for helping others and the enjoying the feeling of feeling needed made me happy to be that go-to person. I remember the time when an acquaintance asked me to go to lunch. I had known her for years, but we had never hung out one-on-one. I thought it was interesting that she asked me to lunch, but I went anyway. We spent almost the entire two hours talking about her and her life. I had given her some advice, and she said it was great to sit and talk with me. I…

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