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Pete Holiday @toomuchpete
, 14 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Tonight I got to meet my local equivalent of Permit Patty. Some (mostly non-white) friends were out at a neighborhood 4th of July fireworks event. We had a table with food and drinks, similar to dozens of other tables around a small park where the fireworks were being held.
Toward the end of the night, a white woman who we'll call "Cecilia" (because that's what she said her name was) came up and started interrogating us.

She was, essentially, asking for our papers (HOA membership card) to be in the neighborhood.
At first, these seemed like they could be reasonable (if extremely aggressive) questions. I WAS skeptical; the event was basically over already. But I gave the benefit of the doubt.

At some point, though, I realized there was something else going on.
The thing that brought me to that realization was Cecilia telling one of the people in our group to "calm down".

This friend was being the very epitome of calm, polite, and neighborly. Every bad faith question answered with a friendly tone and a smile.
The two main participants in the conversation to that point, aside from Cecilia, had been this friend and her husband (who was being much more direct and less sugar-coated with his responses). This was a blatant power play; Cecilia was picking on a WOC.
It was obvious bullying. (Also worth noting, I was probably the last person in the group to recognize what was actually happening)
Without recounting the entire uncomfortable scenario, let me tell you what ended it: I interrupted Cecilia to ask if she had posed these same questions to any of the dozens of groups of white folks who also had tables, food, and drinks out.
Whoa boy. You'd have thought I'd kicked her puppy. Her focus shifted. She became QUITE offended, stammered a lot, and called me rude a dozen times. Soon after that she stormed off with a vague threat to tell the police.

We didn't see her again, and the police never came.
Moral of the story, white folks: standing up to these cowards is straight-forward. They depend on white people being bystanders (c.f. demands for "civility"). The minute you stop being a bystander and start calling them on their bullshit, they have no idea how to react.
That's not to say it was easy or comfortable. There's a lot of adrenaline, and you have to interject without escalating the situation too much. But we're the only ones who can do it. These people are conditioned to brush off claims of racism from POC. Not so from white folks.
Second moral: what allowed me to do this was a tweet I saw a while back encouraging people to think about how they'd want to react if they found themselves witnessing harassment. To visualize it. To think about how to intervene. That visualization made this possible.
You *have to* think about this stuff. If you don't, you will spend the entire conversation knowing that you should do something, but not knowing what, when, or how. You'll wait for the perfect moment.

The perfect moment won't come.
Bonus humorous bit: one of the first things she said after I interjected was, in an extremely dramatic tone, "I would NEVER say . . ." and then she stopped short and there was a long pause. You can guess how she was probably going to finish that sentence. 😂
One addendum: when people do stuff like this, they're typically ready for any "procedural" argument you'd make. They are "I'd like to speak to your manager" experts.

Dragging their racism to the forefront is an effective derail because they have no practice talking about it.
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