White People Problems

Posted on: January 23, 2012

Sometimes, white people super annoy me. That’s an over-reaching, over-arching statement and I don’t *really* mean it, but holy fuck, what is their problem? (I sound racist, which is completely what this post is ranting about, but whatever. I don’t care. That’s why this is anonymous.)

I work in international public health, and I do love it. But the condescending, holier-than-thou attitude that comes along with it from certain people is more than I can take. It’s the idea that because THEY work in Africa, it means THEY care so much and THEY should be listened to because THEY are coming from a country that is smarter/better/richer which automatically means that THEY are smarter/better/richer. I am not even sure if they know how they come across… I don’t ask because I don’t think it’ll be a welcome question: “So, do you know you’re an asshole?”  Yeah. That’ll get me fired pretty quickly I think.

On this past trip to Africa, there was a presentation on how the study was ending and what the next steps are. Key words: STUDY ENDING.  In the middle of the presentation, we got a question from one of the whiteys in the audience who was SO smug and condescending: “Um… I’m concerned about the ethical considerations of the study, did anyone bring those up??”  No, bitch. It’s been 5 years and we all just did exactly what the hell we wanted… What’s an IRB? You mean we had to have this protocol reviewed? Multiple times? By the countries participating in the project? Who knew. (Sarcasm -in case it’s not clear. Everything had been vetted by many agencies prior to the study starting.)

ARGH. It’s that arrogant attitude that is annoying and ridiculous – that no one else, in the course of 5 years, stopped to think about ethics. Thank you, white lady, for being the first to mention it. And that was exactly how she presented it – as if she was such a genius and she, and only she, had considered any ethical ramifications of the study, and the rest of us didn’t care about the poor black people in Africa, not even the Africans in the room that had been involved from the start…

I’ve seen this attitude more often than not, and it’s racist and annoying and if I’m bothered by it, I can’t imagine what our in-country team-mates think.  In this situation, one of our colleagues mentioned she was so embarrassed for this person she wanted to crawl under the table. HA!

It’s the same with the missionaries I meet on the planes… which, there was a surplus of them on our last flight back. Ugh. Thank you, oh random white people (they are always white. ALWAYS.), for going to Africa to teach everyone that abstinence is the ONLY way, regardless of what realities they’re facing and pat yourself on the back on the way home for imparting your knowledge on the heathens in the 2 weeks you were there, because that’s all it takes to make a difference.

If I sound unbearably racist, I’m not. This post doesn’t help support that, but it’s true. What I can’t stand is condescending smugness wrapped in a public-health ethos of helping the world when it’s just plain old colonialism in a different format.


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