I was born into an upper middle class, white home, & lived in a village with a population of only 2000 until I was 18 years old. Growing up, I had no idea how privileged I was, or even what that really meant. I understood the basic definition of racism & felt the implication textbooks made that it was bad, but I can’t remember ever seeing it in a textbook that racism is just wrong. Instead they went over equality, and all of that. Which, I’m sure, they believed was enough when it was written, since this would have been in the 80’s & 90’s, but clearly, from the things still happening today, anti-racism was not nearly emphasized enough.
I have to confess, I’m so not racist, that I am guilty of forgetting racism exists- because I have that luxury, since I am a white female. I’m sure many of us white people are guilty of doing the same. While it’s not great, it doesn’t make us awful unless we choose to go on forgetting once we recognize that doing so is how racism has been allowed to continue for so long. Those of us who have the luxury of moving about this country without worrying about being discriminated against for the color of our skin, have a responsibility to stand up for those who do have to live that way.
How Can We Help?
There are so many things we can do to help:
- We can speak out & get people to listen who otherwise wouldn’t even give it a thought. Friends, family, colleagues- racism has to be eradicated in all settings, and some people don’t listen to anyone but their own peers. There are also easily influenced people in this world- we need them influenced the right way. If all the white people who are passively non-racist would be actively anti-racist, it would spread exponentially.
- We can teach our children to do better than generations past. People of color have to have hard conversations with their children, at young ages, to make sure they know how the world is. We need to be having that conversation with our own children, and make sure we’re teaching them how to be actively anti-racist so that, one day, people of color won’t have to teach their children that they have to be more careful than a white person.
- We can pay attention, and be aware of the racism, hate, & discrimination happening around us, and defend against it. It happens around us daily, sometimes so subtle that it’s hard to catch. That’s why it’s important we pay attention.
- We can vote for leaders who won’t stand for any type of racism. People leading this country should be completely anti-racist. There shouldn’t be any question about where they stand. We need strong, ethical leaders who aren’t going to back down when faced with white supremacy groups fighting for their right to hate people based on the color of their skin. That’s not anyone’s right. Racism isn’t a matter of opinion. All people are equal. Racism should not exist.
- We can put pressure on lawmakers & enforcers to make sure they are enacting legislation & policies that support equality & prosecute those who won’t abide by them, whether they are in a position of authority, or an average citizen. We need the laws and policies put into place that will keep people of color from being treated any differently than a white person, and swift action by our police force when they see ANYONE going against them. Officers must police other officers and take immediate action at the first indication of wrongdoing. No more supporting them, or covering things up.
- We can demand that our justice system get the reform it has desperately needed for awhile now. While there are good judges & good cops, there are also many corrupt ones who have broken the justice system in many ways. We have to make it better for things to change. There has to be a way to make sure cases are being fairly judged, people adequately defended, & appropriately sentenced that is better than what we have now. Too much corruption happens, and things like to “slip through the cracks.” It has to stop.
- We can stop using excuses for the injustices that are happening on a daily basis, and start demanding that they stop happening. Turning a blind eye is why we are here.
- We can actively support people of color during peaceful protests & help protect them from anyone trying to instigate violence. The protests I’m seeing that remain peaceful are the ones where white people stood between protesters & others to keep anyone from starting anything.
- Even if rioting happens, we can keep the focus on the act that caused the protesting in the first place by making sure we keep the conversation about racism, police brutality, or whatever the issue is, instead of what happens in the aftermath, to get authorities to take action. For more on this, go here.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: We have to listen to what Black people, and other minorities, tell us about their experiences and what they need from us. We cannot assume that we know how they feel, what would help, or what they need. So, LISTEN when they tell you.
Nothing can change until all colors together are working towards the same goal of ending racism. That’s just how it has to be. This is becoming increasingly important. There has probably not been a more pivotal time in recent history than what we are in right now. We can’t go back to what it was, so we have to move forward in the right way, and bring about a whole new era for this country where everyone can go about their lives without having to worry about what will happen to them because of their skin color. It’s far beyond time.