Resources for Becoming a Stronger White Ally
Last summer, I shared a list of 12 ways for white people to be an ally to black people. Here are a few more ideas to add to that list, which you can use as inspiration for taking a more active stand against racism:
Learn how to talk with other white people about white privilege.
Start by arming yourself with knowledge about how white privilege works, especially its invisibility to most people. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack offers several easy to understand examples that demonstrate how white privilege manifests in everyday life, usually unnoticed by the person who benefits from the privilege. Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person helps break down how even white people from poor backgrounds reap advantages because of the color of their skin color. Read these articles, share them, talk about them. You can even use this exercise to help you have an even deeper conversation.
Follow leaders of color in the antiracism movement across different sectors and industries, especially young leaders.
Look not only to political leaders but also to journalists like Ta-Nehisi Coates, entertainers like Jessie Williams, and activists like Phillip Agnew. Racism is deeply embedded in every layer of our society so we need to look beyond only politics to be transformative, which means that we need to find role models and champions in all areas of our life, from the tv shows we watch to the books and magazines that we read. Check out this list showcasing 100 leaders of color from various walks of life, including artists, business people, and athletes.
Register to vote and demand that candidates be proactive about addressing racism and injustice in meaningful ways that address root causes and not merely the symptoms of the problem.
Local, state and national elections determine which leaders get the power to shape and enforce the policies and laws that govern our communities. If you are able to vote then you can influence the direction our communities take. Creating a swell of popular influence from the people that is strong enough to bend the will of some politicians will take time – a long time- even if every single one of us votes. So we don’t have another minute to waste.
Regardless of your political affiliation, you can demand that candidates for office make a serious, permanent commitment to fighting structural racism and discrimination in any form. You can find voter registration information for national elections here and here. (I also suggest that you take some time to learn about the discriminatory nature of felon disenfranchisement, which prohibits people convicted of felony charges from voting, which severely limits the voting power of black men in particular.)
Bring together people for a discussion about racism and to work on action ideas to create change where you live.
You can join together with other people to talk about the issues and how you can be agents of change. Several discussion guides are available online for free. Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation leads people through a series of conversations that examine how racism impacts us and provides tools to develop action ideas to create more equitable communities. Protecting Communities Serving the Public shows how to bring together community members and the police to build trust, develop better policies, and make communities safer for everyone. You can also watch a documentary, like Race – The Power of An Illusion and use the discussion questions that go with the video.
The number of people in this movement is growing every day. Change is coming. But we’ve still got work to do. So let’s get to it, immediately. And together.
Janee Woods is a former attorney who left the law to take a nonprofit job focused on supporting community engagement, strengthening democracy and fostering racial equity. She has a lot to say about what matters in her life. You can follow What Matters at janeewoods.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/whatmatterswithjaneewoods. Find her on Twitter @janeepwoods.