An Ode to the Nicest White Person You Know
An Ode to the Nicest White Person You Know
Kermit the Frog Sipping Tea
By Cody Charles /

You have been lied to, because they were lied to

They told you that you are intelligent

That you are capable

That you are virtuous

They told you that you are most deserving

That you are passionate

That you are kind

That you are owed

You believed them- why wouldn’t you?

They told you that you have the answers

That your voice matters, most

And that achieving justice is one-dimensional and self-centered

Your guardians told you

Your parents *traditioned it to you

Your MENtors massaged it into you

And society cradled you

You are told that you can change the world, but I’m sorry to break it to you- you cannot. You have not been equipped to engage such a task. Instead, you have been taught that you have all the right answers and it is your responsibility to save us from ourselves. Therefore, you engage the world as your project and assume your position as the messiah. And anxiously await cookies for your good work.

Sadly enough, you were only taught how to be well-intentioned and unhelpful. You respond defensively to intersectional conversations. You refuse to critically examine the things you hold dear to you. You spend your time advocating and creating for the oppressed without ever having an authentic conversation with them. You cry hard tears when your privilege is poked. You threaten to stop using your voice when confronted on your counterproductive actions. You do a little good and you are rewarded for it- absolutely, no connection to systemic change. You take home six figures and boast about how hard you’ve worked for it. You spend a lifetime doing unhelpful things and retire in bliss. Your name is written on a plaque made of a classic oak. A scholarship is named after you at your alma mater. And you may even win that lifetime achievement award you have worked so hard for in this made up world. Your life has been a dream, nowhere close to reality.

You have been lied to, because they were lied to

You demand attention and feel entitled to the spotlight. You do just enough to not upset status quo. You refuse to take any risk with your voice. You think that all aspects of your work is the “game-changer.” You gain experience by being allowed to play and make mistakes. You go abroad for a semester and then claim to understand inequity. You step out of your privilege when it suits you, only to return when the temperature is raised. You do Teach for America, AmeriCorps, Peace Corp, and work for non-profits to feel like you are making a noteworthy contribution. You show up to a forum on race, a symposium on advocacy, and cheer at a probate to be experienced as kind and “one of the good ones.”

You perform helpful. Though I think you truly believe yourself to be

But you have been lied to, because they were lied to

And you are living proof of the lie

Challenge the lie.

This is the work of Cody Charles; claiming my work does not make me selfish or ego-driven, instead radical and in solidarity with the folk who came before me and have been betrayed by history books and storytellers. Historically, their words have been stolen and reworked without consent. This is the work of Cody Charles. Please discuss, share, and cite properly.


Cody Charles went deep undercover to study Hotepology at the University of Distinguished Hoteps, where he successfully slayed numerous colonies of Hoteps on nippy Saturday evenings- accompanied by the occasional libation and a Popeyes two piece and a biscuit combo. He is the author of The Radical Friendship Contract: 10 Expectations for Loving People Fully10 Common Things Well-Intentioned Allies Do That Are Actually CounterproductiveTen Counterproductive Behaviors of Social Justice EducatorsI Will Burn My Name Onto It, and Simple but not Easy: 25 Steps to Justice. Join him for more conversation on Twitter (@_codykeith_) and Facebook (Follow Cody Charles). Please visit to learn more about Cody.
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An Ode to the Nicest White Person You Know