Treating people like a victim is always an insult.
I have found that many white people love to pity. I have numerous white friends who believe that pity is an appropriate response to many people of color and minorities. However, many people of color (POC) often don’t see pity as an appropriate response to their identity nor status. Why not? Well, pity is often insulting because it assumes you (the white person) know what the person has gone through when you really don’t. However, pity is also insulting because there’s an assumption that the person you’re speaking to is a “victim.” After all, victims are helpless and victims need other people to speak for them, protect them, and offer them the coping skills to get through life. Nietzsche saw right through the hypocrisy of pity in that it makes humanity weak and powerless and negates the will to create. When you pity you’re “looking down” on someone else, seeing them as lesser (not as powerful as you) and therefore, some white people often feel intense passion to “protect” and “defend” POC. It’s not because they are caring per se, but they think POC as having less internal resources than them and are in need of their protection. Is this true of POC? Are they helpless? Let’s talk about trauma.
People who have been traumatized don’t want pity. Nor do they feel respected when you see them as victims.
I have counseled numerous people who’ve been severely traumatized. I’ve counseled people who have been raped multiple times, abused by their caregivers, been the recipients of direct racist attacks, and have been molested by immediate family members. What I have found with almost every one of these wonderful people is how powerful, resilient, and strong they are. These individuals are often coming to see me because they have parts of them that have been very managerial in helping them re-enter society by their own voice, power, and will. These people are MUCH stronger than I am in that they’ve conquered these events without ending their life nor reverting to protecting their abusers. Many have corrected me when I tried to pity them, felt sorry for them, or when I tried to defend them. Sometimes they closed the case with me, but more often, because of their resilience, many have just told me off and said, “That’s f***ing insulting. Stop feeling sorry for me.” They don’t want pity. They want acknowledgement, but not too much praise; they need a place to process, but not a place where you’re in the background just “wishing you could relate.” What I found surprising is that they often respected me when I just called them out or when I got “tough” with them. In other words, I treated them as an equal. They were never insulted when I questioned their thinking, their concept of reality, or their lack of coping skills. They just despised when I pitied them.