I remember one day, my friend — who is Black — was telling me how she got into a disagreement with someone else — who is white — and how, following the conversation, he proceeded to tell her that because of her opinions, she “acted so white.” This individual had no other reason to say this other than the fact that she disagreed with something that Black people “usually agreed with.” 

I find myself witnessing this a lot. Oftentimes, it is assumed that people of color are predestined to think certain ways about different issues. For example, while statistically it is true that more people of color tend to be Democrats, people of color should not be held to the expectation of certain belief systems. 

White people often love to give people of color a set of narratives to live by. These narratives provide white people with a sense of comfort. However, people of color can and should have opinions that make white people uncomfortable, no matter where those opinions fall on a political scale. 

Believe it or not, people of color can have opinions that don’t benefit themselves. Take Candace Owens for example, a pro-Trump Republican political commentator. It's pretty easy to say that a lot of her opinions don’t benefit her, such as the fact that she often downplays white supremacy. While Candace Owens’s opinions aren't very strategic for her when viewed through the lens of her race, that is not a reason to delegitimize her.

What I am saying is, someone can point out how, as a Black woman, her own opinion often doesn't benefit her. However, they should not imply that because she is a Black woman, she should not think that way or that she doesn't think like a “Black woman.”

In my experience, I have witnessed a lot of white people who have opinions that don't benefit them, such as poor white people who support cutting taxes on the rich. However, they aren't told they “don't think like a poor person,” because it would be pretty dehumanizing to say that every poor person thinks the same, right? 

Obviously, Candance Owens is extremely right leaning, so let’s take another famous Black political leader who is arguably far more impactful than Candance Owens: Malcolm X. In school, it's not typical for him to be as big of a focus as Martin Luther King Jr. — if he is even covered at all. When Malcom X is covered, he is often villainized and seen as a minor part of the civil rights movement, despite being a huge part of it.

So why is that? Personally, I think it is because of white guilt. Malcolm X criticized white people heavily and was not as willing to reason so peacefully. He felt that building back Black identity was key to liberation, and building Black identity meant making white people face the detriment they have placed upon people of color. He emphasized how Black identity was shaped by the oppression they faced and resistance they held against white people.

Topics like this can bring up immense guilt. Rather than take responsibility for the guilt they feel, most white people would rather villainize the opinions of people of color. But people of color are allowed to have opinions that can bring up feelings of white guilt and should not be silenced for doing so.

When you believe that a race should not have varying opinions, you take away their complexity and dehumanize them. When you silence those voices or villainize them, you are actively being tyrannous. Everyone has the right to disagree with someone, but you should never use race as a weapon to delegitimize someone. 

People choose their opinions to better their own lives. People of color wouldn't think in a way that doesn't benefit them, right? Truth is, someone doesn't need to deny their identity to think in a way that may conflict with it. Oftentimes, people who make decisions wholeheartedly believe it will benefit them and improve life. To say that people of color should think a certain way means that there is a “right and wrong” answer. When it comes to things as ambiguous as politics, this cannot be the case. 

The bottom line is that people of color don’t need to have opinions that make you comfortable. You can criticize someone for having an opinion, but in doing so, that criticism shouldn’t be made about their race. When you believe that people of color should have certain opinions or tell them to have certain opinions, you take away their right to choose — which overall serves no benefit — and is an active form of oppression.

Carmela Rigatuso is a freshman ethnic studies and biology double major. Reach her at carmelarigatuso@dailynebraskan.com.