Every time I laid my newborn son down for bed, a white-noise machine built into his bassinet soothed him to sleep. The sleep-aide device drowned out the noise of his mother recording dance tutorial videos for her website and his sibling dog, Wesley, barking at the front door, with nothing but the busy beats of the bustling Harlem streets on the other side. The machine distracted him from the loud realities that made up his fragile, rapidly changing world. It mimicked an environment he once knew – the womb. It simulated the familiar and comfortable to calm him as life moved forward with him blissfully unaware. The noise weighted his eyes into incessantly rapid blinking. I depended on white noise to still him to sleep as I strategized about how to use the silence to meet my to-do list.
A more insidious white noise distracts us into perpetual sleep meant to safeguard the status quo of racism. I categorize the racists ideas, speech, silence, and misrepresentations that protect and perpetuate Whiteness as white noise. When I discuss Whiteness in this book, I am not referring to skin color but rather to conscious or unconscious deference to unfounded notions of White superiority. White noise masks racial realities and allows persons. Regardless of race, to ignore the call to disrupt systemic, structural, and individual racism. Though we dare not admit it, a majority of Americans adopt an eye-averted posture concerning race in our societies. White racist ideas, speech, and inaction exist across all racial lines due to how American public life shapes persons and perspectives. The omni-audible nature of Whiteness negates organic Black joy, peace, equality, love, and power, leaving images of Black violence, struggle, indignity, and destructibility seared into our public imagination.
From “Silencing White Noise: Six Practices to Overcome Our Inaction on Race” by Willie Dwayne Francois III Brazos Press