By Chris Talbot-Heindl, nonprofit laborer and born activist

UPDATE: An earlier version of this essay read, “There was also an email from a white woman, Kimber (not her real name), stating that she would not be financially supporting CCF because a BIPOC member of our collective movement made a statement supporting Palestinians’ right to live, which she found offensive.” This line was interpreted as Kimber didn’t believe Palestinians had a right to live rather than Kimber was offended at the statement made, which was, in whole, about Palestinians’ right to live and actions we can take to stop the genocide. Chris regrets the phrasing they used, which led to this interpretation. The whiteness Kimber exhibited in the original email and in the two she sent today will be covered further in part 3, which is about how whiteness has shown up as retribution for speaking out in support of Palestine.

White cisgender women especially, but white folks of all persuasions, have flooded the CCF channels where BIPOC folks are having fruitful and honest conversations, derailing them and re-enacting the worst bits of whiteness, at times making the spaces feel like a glorified replica of every white-led organization I’ve had the displeasure of navigating.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the first part of this three-part series dissecting recent examples of whiteness infiltrating the CCF movement and making some moments as toxic as your standard white-led nonprofit consistently is, destroying the spirit of what CCF could and should be. (Read Part 1: “Do something about her.”)

Since then, I’ve received a response from Emmy (not her real name) that made it abundantly clear that she hadn’t read what I wrote, much less truly sat with the questions I posed. She just wanted to define the CCF movement in a way that is antithetical to our values and the recent statement made by the (BIPOC-led) Global Council’s Communications Committee and instead mirrors the oppressive white “professionalism” we’ve been forced into. 

I also received a series of comments (which have since been dirty deleted) on our Instagram post about the first essay, declaring I lacked intellect and demanding that I refrain from describing differences in power and interactions based on race. There was also an email from a white woman, Kimber (not her real name), stating that she would not be financially supporting CCF because a BIPOC member of our collective movement made a statement supporting Palestinians, which she found offensive.

These are just three more concrete examples of whiteness trying to penalize BIPOC-led efforts and voices attempting to bring community care back into the nonprofit industrial complex to protect white comfort. 

*Sigh.* It’s tiring AF.  

White cisgender women especially, but white folks of all persuasions, have flooded the CCF channels where BIPOC folks are having fruitful and honest conversations, derailing them and re-enacting the worst bits of whiteness, at times making the spaces feel like a glorified replica of every white-led organization I’ve had the displeasure of navigating.

It’s a disheartening thing to see happening to CCF — a movement that first opened my eyes to the fact that what I had experienced in the nonprofit industrial complex was abuse, and a movement that gives me life with how much potential it has to transform the sector and more importantly, the world.

“Stop using that word.”

CCF is a movement made by BIPOC folks, for BIPOC folks, in which white folks are allowed in as fellow accomplices. But as the editor of The Hub and the person who manages our social media, the DMs, emails, and comments we receive from white folks on a pretty regular basis would make you think that the movement centered around their comfort.

I often get demands to edit our BIPOC creators’ words and truths for the sake of white comfort. (I can just imagine the nonsense coming my way after this goes live on the site.)

Kimber’s email was an attempt to prompt me to apologize for another BIPOC individual’s (completely balanced and appropriate) words to sing for the CCF movement’s supper and place distance between our movement and this BIPOC thought leader. Why else send me an email like that? She could have simply ignored the ask and not donated.

Whiteness demands that white folks feel 100% comfortable all the time, which is antithetical to this movement or any push for social, environmental, or economic justice. But that doesn’t stop white folks from expecting and commanding it. 

One such email came in from someone I’m going to call Bethy. She took umbrage with a word choice from one piece and immediately came to our DMs to demand I change it. In the exchange, she whitesplained what the word meant — putting her own spin on it. And she continually demanded I change it, no matter how I responded. I told her the actual meaning and why it was apt in the essay and asked her to sit with why it bothered her.

“I’d also encourage you to sit with why you felt it appropriate to message an editor of color to lecture them about the meaning of a word and demand they edit a writer of color while leveraging your education level. I’d invite you to examine if that behavior was the way you would like this movement to look and feel and if you believe it embodies the principles and values this movement is built on.”

Bethy responded with condescension, telling me she’d like to meet with me to further whitesplain (my word, not hers) nonprofit event planning — something I have done in every nonprofit job I’ve had for the last 22 years. “In the meantime, I wish you all the best in your activism.” 

Whiteness showed up here in a myriad of ways. Demands for deference for her preferences, demands for my time so she could “educate” me, and an inability to recognize two people of color’s expertise, all to uphold the status quo, not support the movement.

Another white woman I’ll call Addy emailed me complaining about a creator’s title and branding, claiming it was “meme-ifying nonprofit work” which “cheapens our labor.” She accused me of moving The Hub away from “principle-based content” for clicks. As part of her takedown of me as the editor and the author’s decisions (who is a woman of color and well-known in the movement), she also decided to disparage another BIPOC thought leader in our network who happens to be a friend, mentor, and someone I admire greatly.

I immediately reminded Addy that the movement was begun by and led by BIPOC since its inception. And the two people she had disparaged were dear members of our community and invaluable leaders of color in the movement. I reminded her that while some of the content may not appeal to her specifically, I’m not in the business of changing how our BIPOC members show up — not for white comfort or any other reason — nor to be a gatekeeper of content. My job as the editor, editing with equity in mind, is to offer guidance and coaching to help creators put out the incredible work they create and maximize its visibility.

When Addy continued to demand I change our BIPOC creatives’ words to her preferences, I asked her to sit with why the title bothered her so much when she knew the content was impeccable. I asked her to sit with why she felt the need to demand that I edit the words of BIPOC thought leaders, and why she believed it was her place to police me as an editor. There was no response.

How does this type of whiteness harm white people?

I think if you asked any BIPOC nonprofit laborer the most common request or demand their white colleagues have made to them since 2020, it would be, “I don’t know enough. I need you to educate me.”

There seems to be (at least performatively) a desire to know and do better. But how are we ever going to get there if whiteness derails any and all conversations because a word or phrase made a white person uncomfortable? 

Let’s look at a more blatant example from one of my workplaces: I’m the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Chairperson at one of the places I work, and I curated a tailored training on nonviolent, intentional communication because we had a couple of incidents and I thought it the next best step after being asked to “educate” on the subject.

A white member of my committee derailed the entire meeting, where discussing any last-minute changes to the training was just one agenda item, to discuss the phrase “perfectionism is a white supremacy culture characteristic,” which was hyperlinked to Tema Okun’s generally accepted list

There was hemming and hawing about the phrase, concern for BIPOC individuals seeing the phrase and feeling left out (yes, really, even after the two BIPOC people on the Zoom call said this was definitely a non-issue), etc. The entire hour was spent on her discomfort with that phrase (I need facilitator training so I can interrupt that white nonsense, stat!). Despite the efforts of the rest of the committee — one BIPOC individual tried to ask her to do some internal investigation as to why the phrase bothered her, and a white member asked her to look beyond the words and to the intention behind it — nothing worked because this white woman wasn’t interested in moving beyond it. She wanted it changed. And she wanted it changed now! 

White folks recognize that they can’t be in meaningful community without learning and doing better to build inclusive and equitable spaces. Still, they get in their own and each other’s way with the learning, with the building, and by competing with or separating from each other. They derail a conversation that is happening or could be had over one or two words and won’t move beyond it to the intention behind it because the objective is deference, not community.

And that’s at the most benign level. Other times, they use their discomfort to police or call for “the police” in whatever form it takes to penalize people for words and phrases that are uncomfortable for them to hear. 

No matter how it’s done, it ends the same: we never get beyond talking Remedial Race Relations 101; too much BIPOC transformational energy is spent continually trying to educate someone who, at their core, doesn’t respect or trust our expertise or lived experiences (“I guess I disagree with the DEI experts, then” was an actual phrase used by this white member of the JEDI Committee); and there remains a massive rift between the BIPOC thought leaders and change-makers and the white folks who won’t let us proceed toward transformational change.

How to restore what whiteness has done

White folks: before you email, DM, make a comment, or otherwise order a BIPOC person to separate from another BIPOC person for your comfort, like white folks often do to each other, ask yourself why you are doing that. Work to build your emotional regulation muscles, learn to differentiate between discomfort and true harm (in brief: discomfort is a temporary feeling that can be unpleasant and is often needed to signify growth is necessary; harm is long-term or ongoing pain — like racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, etc — that a specific incident can trigger), and talk to your fellow white folks about your discomfort and really listen to their feedback.

Suppose you are continually experiencing discomfort with a word, phrase, or topic. In that case, it’s your responsibility to grow that edge or seek outside help (self-help books and articles, support groups, counseling, therapy, etc.) to help you grow that edge and examine that discomfort.

It is not your BIPOC colleagues’ responsibility to make sure you never read a word, phrase, or topic that causes you discomfort. And some of y’all don’t listen to us anyway. This is why you continually email, DM, make comments, and otherwise make me responsible for the discomfort you experience with the words of BIPOC individuals speaking truth to power and order me to remove the word, phrase, or topic from your and everyone else’s view – including those who found the word, phrase, or topic to be a huge part of their learning or cathartic to see named explicitly.

To white folks observing: interject. Do the labor that otherwise falls to the BIPOC person being ordered to silence other BIPOC folks for white folks’ comfort. But, again, as I said in the last essay, do so outside the lens of whiteness. Bring people in with compassion and grace, not condescension, superiority, or power. You have less labor to do in these spaces than BIPOC folks do.

As Dana James, a member of our Global Council, said during a one-on-one, “Privilege is the responsibility to not center your own emotions knowing you have the capacity to absorb more, and doing so for the collective.” Please do so for the collective.

Chris Talbot-Heindl

Chris Talbot-Heindl

Chris Talbot-Heindl (they/them) is a queer, trans nonbinary, triracial artist and nonprofit employee. When they aren’t working the day job, they spend their free time editing art and literature magazines, writing and illustrating educomics to help folks affirm their nonbinary pals, creating a graphic novel to describe what it’s like to be nonbinary in a gender binary world, cuddling their cat, and quad skating in the park. You can find Chris at, on LinkedIn, and Twitter — and tip them on Venmo or PayPal or join as a patron on their Patreon.