Hey fellow white people. Like me, if you were born in America and grew up in America, you were raised to be racist. Even if we like to think we “don’t see color”. Even if we can’t identify anything racist we’ve ever said or done or thought. Even if our parents are “woke” liberals, or we grew up in a big diverse city.
No one is saying you chose to be born into country that was built on systemic racism. No one is saying you chose to be raised with racism deeply pervading every aspect of the culture. Yet, even if you didn’t choose it, you were raised in a racist country with racist views. Please don’t waste your time arguing with it. Just accept it. Then help make a plan about how we’re going to become anti-racist.
7 steps we can take (of an endless list):
1) Diversify our feeds. We can do this on any or all of our social media apps. It’s super easy: just follow a whole bunch of different people who are Black. (While you’re at it, you can also follow people of color (POC) who are not Black. But right now, combatting anti-blackness is the priority.) You can follow Black people who are old, young, and in between. You can follow Black people who are disabled and abled. You can follow Black people who are queer and straight. You can follow Black people who live across the country and across the world.
Not sure how to start? Try Google. Search: “Who are the best #BlackLivesMatter voices to follow on Twitter” or search for “lists of Black people who are journalists” or for something like “best Black-owned art galleries” or “top Black interior designers”.
To be clear, you don’t need to follow activists if that’s not your thing. You can continue to follow whatever interests and groups you already follow, just add in some Black people that also represent those same interests and groups. So if you’re a foodie, and you mainly follow food-related accounts on Instagram, do a search for something like: “most popular Black Instagram foodies” and then follow the people who look like they match up with your interests.
Please remember: the Black people you follow are not responsible for teaching you about racism. If you want to learn about racism, that’s great — there are books and classes you should pay for. We diversify our feeds to make sure we’re seeing a wide variety of points of view and a wide variety of life experiences.
2) Do the reading. There are many excellent lists of reading material and media that can help us become antiracist. Karen of Chookoonloonks published a list on her blog. Brene Brown recommended this book: How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Choose an antiracist book for the next book club. Discuss it. Read an antiracist book aloud as a family. Discuss it with your children.
3) Put money on the line. Buy books about anti-racism written by Black authors. Support bail efforts for protestors. Register for an anti-racism class. Shop at Black-owned businesses. Add your own suggestions in the comments.
4) Watch the Amy Cooper video. Study how intentional she is with her threats; study how she changes her voice to sound panic-y even while she’s perfectly safe. Consider how manipulative and harmful her actions are. Watch it with your kids and discuss how it’s wrong and awful to weaponize our white tears.
5) Please listen to the voices of protestors-who-are-Black as you form your opinions about the rebellion that’s happening. Recognize that the reasons for protesting are far bigger and more important than possible property damage.
6) This is important: Get ready to mess up. We will say the wrong thing sometimes. People will call us racist and they will be right. It will hurt our feelings. So what. We will get over it.
There’s very likely something racist I’m writing in this post and I don’t recognize it. But someone will point it out, and then I will learn, and I will do better next time. Don’t ever make this about our hurt feelings.
7) Follow Taylor Swift’s lead and take a public stand. She will lose fans over it. We may lose friends or followers over it. That’s okay.
Remember, this has to be an ongoing effort; it’s not something we just mark off our list and tada! we’re antiracist. We have to keep working at it. This is incredibly important work. We must make it a priority.
Your turn. Anything you would add to this list to help people get started on the road to anti-racism? Any books or media you’ve found particularly helpful and want to recommend?
P.S. — I shared a shorter version of this message on Instagram and there are a lot of discussions in the comments if you’d like to read.