CNN published a glowing and totally uncritical article Wednesday on a group that aims to be “your white allies on Facebook.”
White Nonsense Roundup is composed of 100 self-declared “white allies” who rush “to relieve people of color from the emotional labor of engaging with a person’s racist or racially insensitive thoughts,” according to CNN’s puff piece.
CNN described the group as “roadside assistance for social media debates you’re tired of having.”
A person of color can request the assistance of White Nonsense Roundup simply by tagging the group in heated debates and letting one of the white allies interject themselves into the social media quarrel.
The group apparently has some really big fans. “It’s inspiring. I really appreciate the work that they’re doing and I steadily promote them,” Kevin Tillman, an educator in Oakland, California, told CNN. Tillman says he uses the services of these white allies on an almost daily basis.
“When I saw the (White Nonsense Roundup) post, that’s when I was like, ‘Phew, finally somebody white who gets it … someone willing to carry the burden of racism,'” raved violinist Chenoa Alamu.
The inspiration for the group came from the public debate surrounding the police shooting of Philando Castile in 2016, according to one of its founders.
“I think, as white people, we are taught that intentions are all that matters,” White Nonsense Roundup co-founder Terri Kempton told CNN. “We think that if our hearts are in the right places and we consciously doubt racism, we’re good to go. So that was a light-bulb moment to me, where I didn’t think intentions are enough.”
Kempton works as a college instructor.
The volunteers for the social media police force say they often see the same kind of problematic statements when arguing with other white people. These include: “I’m not racist because I don’t see color,” “Cultural appropriation isn’t real,” “I don’t have white privilege because of [x],” “Why is it always about race?” and “All Lives Matter.”
CNN described the last statement as “particularly thorny.”
If you are hoping to join White Nonsense Roundup, you have to go through a pretty rigorous screening process. “There are no training wheels” for potential volunteers, CNN reports.
In order to become a certified white ally, you have to submit your social media history and answer four problematic comments in a “firm but compassionate fashion.”
Once accepted into the group, which boasts over 100,000 likes on Facebook, a volunteer works a two-hour shift scanning social media for whites who stay off message.
In spite of being proud of their status as white allies, the members of White Nonsense Roundup want to emphasize to people of color that they know their place.
“We’re very aware of the tendency of white activists to center ourselves, so we’re careful not to pretend we’re white saviors,” Kempton said to CNN.