“Tell us what to do… I know that we can march, arm in arm…like some white people
marched with Martin Luther King. I vote…I have a big mouth and voice my opinion
all the time. No one would ever think of making a racist statement in front of me
(or I’d “out” them like I did my mother that time. Tell me what to do. I’m furious and
heart-broken and ashamed and wanting to DO something. Maybe there is something
that we just cannot see because of the filter of our privilege”.
I’m sure many will be surprised that I’m answering this because I tell them not to ask the black people what to do but I’m happy to share my thoughts with those I know are already doing the work and want to do more.
So here goes:
1 – Education is not enough but is crucial to being able to go further and sway hearts n minds… learn every aspect of the terms: white privilege, white fragility, implicit racial bias, racial inequity, racism vs prejudice or bigotry, microagression, silencing, tone policing, victim blaming, race baiting, white washing, transracial (yes it’s a real thing NOT what the media says it is). Seek out the true history and current truth of this country; the myriad of black contributions; the range and depth of racist abuse; black Wall Street; slave patrols & the KKK; the real crime and death stats for all groups, the real income numbers and gaps…find the truth. Make yourself aware of the black experience…find black media, read black authors, respectfully engage in black Twitter.
2 – Accountability is, imho, the MOST important…peer pressure is the most successful behavior modifier we have. So that means holding yourselves and others accountable for beliefs, perspectives, words, and actions. YES you have to say it’s NOT ok to think/believe certain things if they want you in their lives. Shaming and shunning has to become part of your toolkit. It shouldn’t be your initial mode (try guiding educating whatever) but white folk have to stop accepting these views and attitudes in their loved ones. Force uncomfortable conversations EVERYWHERE…you will not be popular but that’s gonna happen if you’re committed to this fight. You have to be willing to be relentless, unwavering, vigilant, and constant. You should be having these conversations with family, friends, coworkers (yes you should freakin risk your job), church and social groups, and with your kids. If you aren’t having at least 3 conversations a week you aren’t trying (FB/social media only counts if you actually know the person and are having a somewhat direct exchange). Regularly recheck yourselves…this is a multiphase process for yall and just because you’re at stage 4 doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy to get to 6.
3 – Be heard! You must work on personal and systemic racism at the same time. So March, protest, sign petitions, write letters! But remember that it far safer for you to do it so don’t put black people at risk…and be respectful (it’s not your mic to grab or stage to stand on unless you created it) get involved in racial justice action orgs – especially ones for white folk. Showing Up for Racial Justice is a great one but there are many others including a growing number of interfaith anti racism groups…or start your own. Query what your local and federal politicos are doing, stay informed on how housing, education, medical, and correctional policies/laws impact black people and work to stop those from remaining or being created. Demand that groups/orgs/communities you are involved in – that claim to care about equality or oppressions (women’s groups im looking right at you) actually speak out against anti-black racism.
4 – Economics… folk want to place the burden of responsibility on the intersectionality of race and income. BS if there weren’t racism black people wouldn’t be so poor. Educate yourself on the truth of black vs white generational, historical and current wealth…on what inheritance, white flight, and technology advances have wrought on the black person/family/community. Become cognizant of which companies profit from or support racism (for profit prisons, racist staffing practices, racist profiling and treatment of customers, racist sales practices, racist marketing choices) and DO NOT give them your money. This list includes WalMart Target and Disney.
5 – Media & propaganda is the tool/mechanism at the root of so many aspects of racism…from Hattie the Hottentot to Michelle as Afro-militant…from the race riots of the early 1900s to the KKK…from Gone With the Wind to The Help…from the ‘uncivilized negro’ to the ‘angry black woman’ these dehumanizing images and narratives assuage white guilt at the brutality of YOUR race while denigrating us and allowing you to continue to believe in white pseudo-supremacy. You MUST deprogram your minds of these vile negative images you’ve taught each other about us.
Watch what you n yours are watching…become unrelenting in your analysis of why there is a lack of black people in ‘normal’ roles in the media…why are so many people of color only portraying stereotype reinforcing roles…look at which companies/studios/production houses/networks are being racially or culturally biased and STOP watching their product…will you miss your favorite show, perhaps, but won’t you miss me more when racism KILLS me? Look into racist propaganda, cultural appropriation, and subliminal racial imagery. Then TELL others and keep pointing it out. Do NOT support the franchises, groups, and merchandise from this false lying media. Stop watching stop buying and STOP INVESTING in them. If you own stock in any of them you are profiting off of racism. DO support the media and creative works being put out by those whose experience it IS…those works that are fair and unbiased…and especially those works that seek to further the fight against racism and inequality. Think about the words chosen to describe people, the pictures chosen to portray them, the information disseminated about them (why do we need victim’s rap sheets and murderer’s award lists – why am I angry when white folk are passionate?).
6 – Politics at all levels do matter but white folk have to start respecting the fact that yall have allowed 2 USAs to exist so what will benefit you will often make no difference to us. STOP thinking that your issues are our issues. ACCEPT the fact that the squeeze many of you are feeling is NOTHING compared to the crushing weight of what we’ve been surviving for centuries…and it’s NOT the same…white folk are NOT ‘finally learning what minorities suffer’ just because things have gotten lean. So if you actually want to be an ally then you actually have to think about how a politicians platform is going to affect people of color and particularly black people. Research how much policies that help white folk actually help black people, which policies have been successful in reducing inequities, the impact of historic and current policies on widening the divide. Then vote for the ones who are looking at those things and have tangible ideas for what to do. Demand that ‘your’ candidates address these issues in tangible ways and be relentless in getting action. Be vocal on lack of diversity in candidates and vigilant about discovering the reasons.
Seven is important:
7 – Demand that it be MANDATORY for EVERY police/law enforcement department to carry malpractice insurance. Let the risk assesses and arbiters handle the bad cops…if a cop can’t be insured by the dept’s carrier because of too many abuse of power/protocol violation/violence/brutality/criminal behaviors reports/claims then they have to pay for their own or they can’t work.”
Sharrianna Rice is an International Educator, Marginalization Mitigator, Intersectional Inclusivity Consultant, Anti-Oppression Activist and co-Founder of Allies Academy which provides private and group programs, online, for racial justice allies and those who seek to be. For more information see: HERE. You can also find Allies Academy on Facebook.