In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti racist.” — Angela Davis
Many of us who have been part of the silent majority are awakening to the invisible fog of racism which we’ve lived under for years, and the way our complicity, complacency, and silence has played a role in the rise of overt racist pride in majority white countries. This new awareness inspires a desire in many of us to do something about the current systemic injustices that marginalize BIPOC and put them in a disadvantaged position.
In order for us as humans to move forward in harmony and peace, we must be willing to look at our internalized racism and supremacy which has rendered us silent and complacent. This is a good development, but we must move forward with mindfulness and vigilance about the trauma laden path we’re now treading onto, and the best ways to actually be part of this movement so that we don’t cause unintentional harm in our efforts to be allies.
First of all, repeatedly it’s been asked by BIPOC, who face racism on a daily basis, that if you are a white person, or holding a white person privilege, to first learn to listen instead of speak. White dominance has hijacked everyone’s narrative through its lens including racial justice. Racial justice has been whitewashed and so if you are a white person involved in racial justice work – learn to take a back seat and allow BIPOC experts to lead these conversations as it is a lived experience for us. A white person, no matter how much they care, will never know the experience of racism and thus is not in a position to lead these conversation. Instead, they should for the first time, shut up, listen, learn and support BIPOC’s work.
Below are quotes and resources to help us upon the journey. Take in the wisdom of these guides who are already treading the path, and who want you to join the cause as conscious allies. This means being honest with ourselves about our behaviors and biases, and being willing to be called out. Read on with an open mind and heart, and let the wisdom soak you through.
It is important for those us that are white to recognize that allyship is not a self-appointed badge that we wear. Whether or not we are allies can only be determined by the people that we seek to be in solidarity with, and is based on our ACTIONS not just our beliefs. It doesn’t really matter if you say you “believe in equality” if you’re not pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to make that a reality. Most white liberals and progressives say they want racial equity, yet so few of us are willing to put in the actual work.
No white person is born knowing how to be an ally, but we have to understand that it requires consistent, intentional work, discomfort, listening to POC activists on the solidarity they’re asking for, and often times some sacrifice to make this a reality. Let’s stop patting ourselves on the back for being “less racist” than “those people” and look at how our daily thoughts and actions line up with our beliefs. If we’re only talking about racism/anti-racism around People of Color, then we are missing out on the important work that we need to be doing, which is educating other white people.
– Matt McGorry
If our history has taught us anything, it is that action for change directed only against the external conditions of our oppressions is not enough. In order to be whole, we must recognize the despair oppression plants within each of us – that thin persistent voice that says our efforts are useless, it will never change, so why bother, accept it. And we must fight that inserted piece of self-destruction that lives and flourishes like a poison inside of us, unexamined until it makes us turn upon ourselves in each other. But we can put our finger down upon that loathing buried deep within each one of us and see who it encourages us to despise, and we can lessen its potency by the knowledge of our real connectedness, arcing across our differences.
– Audre Lorde
Many Americans will tell you they know that racism exists but they don’t know any racists personally. I am here to tell you, that you do because racism is a system backed by violence. You know the systems: housing, education, policing, health care, the criminal justice system, the economic system.
This system is historic, normalized, taken for granted, deeply embedded, and works to the benefit of whites and to the disadvantage of people of color (Hilliard, 1992).The main way this system continues is the lack of understanding what racism actually is and the ways we have been socialized to make sure whiteness is always comfortable. So when you see me talking, teaching and working on dismantling oppression and creating systems that are fair and just what I am really saying is we need to create something this country has never seen, a reality it has never known.
We have to rethink structures, systems, institutions, and constructs. Oppression is a machine and the systems I identified are the cogs that keep it running. Only together can we stop the machine. Only together can we create a new vision for this country. It is not enough to not feed the machine, we have to take the machine apart piece by piece.
– Desiree Adaway
The following quotes are taken from an interview performed by Tolerance.org. Check them out for more resources!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STAGES OF BECOMING A WHITE ANTI-RACIST/ALLY?
1) Realize the meanings behind privilege, racism and whiteness.
2) Look within before you look outward. How do you relate to the definitions? Pinpoint the ways in which you experience privilege as a white person.
3) Look outward, find out the historical, global and social patterns of the effects of racism and other forms of oppression.
4) Act. Realize that you want to do something about this system, and come at it with a sensitivity and understanding that you come from a privileged background whether you like it or not.
– Sejal Patel
HOW DOES GUILT AFFECT WHITE ANTI-RACISM?
Guilt allows white people to maintain the status quo. Guilt creates paralysis. Guilt transfers the responsibility to people of color. Guilt continues the aspect of racism wherein white people put people of color in a situation of taking care of us.
By saying, “I feel so guilty, so bad,” it puts the other person in a position of comforting. The other person is then silenced, must reposition or restate their truth. Or worse — maintain their truth and risk being viewed as mean, insensitive and angry.
Guilt is where most white people get stuck. Guilt is the ultimate obstacle in the personal journey to being a white ally.
– Diane Flinn
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CONCEPT OF BEING “COLORBLIND”?
To be “colorblind” implies the invisibility of race, something we all know to not be invisible. My experience of the world is informed by being white; other people experience and interact with me informed by my whiteness so, for me, colorblindness feels like an erasure. To be colorblind is to not see my family, where we come from, our history, and our ways of being. “Colorblind” avoids difference rather than recognizing and valuing it.
I do not see how a white activist can be an ally from a position of colorblindness. I understand that many people use this term to challenge racial stereotyping, to not see people “as” their color and the associated racial stereotypes, but it functions as assimilation. If we become “colorblind,” than to which worlds and ways of being are we being blinded? What are we not “seeing?” And in which “hue” will we be operating?
– Diane Flinn
Resources to Develop your
Self study, or Svadhyaya, is an important part of the yogic path. It also applies to our anti-racist path since racism is one of the insidious factors that keeps us disconnected from our humanity. So we’ve gathered some resources for you to dive deeper and continue the learning and healing.
Below you will find books to read, documentaries to watch, and Instagram accounts of modern day racism teachers to follow. Self study is a daily practice, and uncovering our biases and internalized racism is part of the process to finding that union of interconnectedness. We encourage you to dive in and dive deep, and to face what you find with courage, honesty, patience and love.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander
- Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde
- Eloquent Rage – Brittany Cooper
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DiAngelo
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
- So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo
- Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair – Sarah Schulman
- The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love – Bell Hooks
- The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace – Jeff Hobbs
- The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin
- Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism – Bell Hooks
- Race Matters – Cornel West
- Slavery by Another Name – Douglas A. Blackmon
- Seeing White – Scene on Radio
- 13th on Netflix
Please honor these BIPOC spaces by learning to listen and read before needing to center your personal experience.
Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy workbook is out. She is offering it for free as her birthday gift to the world. It is really a must soul work especially if you are white person. It will open your heart and mind and shift perspective around your role in up keeping the injustices. No white person should be exempt from doing this work.
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