Our Pledge To You


FOUNTAIN: When blacks speak their minds, they hear ‘stop whining’

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King waves to supporters in this August 28,1963 photo on the Mall in Washington during the "March on Washington." | AFP/Getty Images

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King waves to supporters in this August 28,1963 photo on the Mall in Washington during the "March on Washington." | AFP/Getty Images

More often than not the points of your columns are valid and right on. But there are times they become tedious and whiny,” a reader wrote to me a while back. “The price paid for protest in any and all its forms is not exclusive to black people! It covers everyone!

“This white boy learned that lesson early and often! When you disrupt the status quo or go against the norm a price will be paid. In either case stop whining. It’s demeaning and does not work.”

Ahem… First, sir, thank you for your note. Second, I’m neither your son nor your slave.


I understand well the price of protest and that it is not “exclusive to black people.” Pleeease, gimme a break. I also know all too well the common retort of white privilege when a black person dares speak their mind about the experience of racial discrimination: “Stop whining.”

It’s always “stop whining” when attempting to whitewash, diminish or else suggest that black folk “get over it” and develop amnesia about the discrimination and hate we have historically faced and continue to confront in America.

Let me assure you that whatever you may have encountered as a soldier for social justice you did not face double jeopardy simply because of the color of your skin. My God, man, you’re white! That alone shields you from offenses in white America reserved for blacks only.

To disrupt the status quo does exact a price. At near 60 years old, I know. That’s not news. I also know well the particular weightier price and also the unique issues and repercussions faced by those of us with black skin who dare buck the system. (No pun intended.)

Whining? I imagine that some of the same whites or folks of other racial and cultural persuasions who suggest that black folks like me “stop whining” would have said the same to black slaves complaining about their easy workloads. The same to those whiny, ungrateful Negro baseball players opposed to being called “nigger,” spat upon, and not allowed to stay in the same hotels or dine at the same restaurants as their white teammates.

To Dr. King, even as he penned that whiny “Letter From A Birmingham Jail” while reclining in that comfy city jail cell through Good Friday in April 1963. To uppity Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells for their incessant outspokenness about the cruelty of slavery and lynching — pressing vehemently by pen and tongue for freedom and justice. Stop whining? Hmmm.

Who’s really whining here?

And why are a black person’s clear articulations on injustice, discrimination and mistreatment in a racially oppressive and unjust system whining? When we endure and overcome hate — despite every conceivable reason to fail — and emerge to tell our stories, why are our stories in our own voices reduced to “whining?”

Dear kind sir, you’re white in America — born into the privilege accorded to those in America with white skin. It is your birthright.

And here you are, comparing your struggle and yourself to me: the great-great-grandson of a slave — human chattel, Jim Crow-hated, human rights-abated, emancipated, and yet, after all these years, still not liberated.

But I’m whining. Really? C’mon, man, lol. Who’s whining?

As for being “tedious,” that is an apt word for your note to me.

Regarding: “Do we abandon our principles and quit?”

Who said anything about quitting? Did you not read my words? “…And still we rise.”

Finally, what’s “demeaning” is that you write to me with words so dripping with paternalism and privilege. For like I said, sir: I’m neither your son nor your slave.

Email: Author@johnwfountain.com