“If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, that’s not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress comes from healing the wound that the blow made.”
– Malcolm X
“[Reparations] is for all of us. If you’ve abused someone … oppressed someone. If you terrorize people … segregated people … killed because of your bias, you have to do things to become healthy and whole. And that’s what the case for reparations for me is all about. It’s about how a society heals from injustice.”
– Bryan Stevenson
I. Enough Is Enough
Today is Juneteenth, the 155th anniversary of the last enslaved people being freed, a cruel two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. On this day of commemoration, we have an important opportunity to revisit how this promise of freedom remains unfulfilled and how we might fulfill that promise today.
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks are the latest manifestations of America’s 400-year investment in anti-Black racism. The resulting social unrest represents an eruption of the volcano of American race relations.
It’s no secret that Americans created this volcano. In 1607, Americans committed genocide of Native Americans, fueled by settler colonialism. Beginning in 1619, Americans considered Black people property, importing them from Africa like cargo, penning them like cattle, and auctioning them off as slaves. Then, 246 years later, the end of slavery ushered in a century of apartheid and racial terror, followed by a half century of de facto segregation, police brutality, and mass incarceration.
After four centuries of exploitation, white people have extracted nearly $100 trillion in wealth. And Black families have suffered immeasurably.
Now the searing image of George Floyd dying on the street, his neck under a policeman’s knee, forces us to reckon with our nation’s history. As a white man, born in California, I’m astonished and heartened by the national wave of multicultural protests, shutting down entire cities.
We are clearly at an inflection point. But what will history say about this moment? Is this revolt only about police brutality? Or will we more broadly address centuries of white supremacy?
Abolishing slavery didn’t end racism. The Civil Rights Movement didn’t end racism. Electing a Black President didn’t end racism.
After four centuries of fits and starts, it’s time to stop relying on gestures to settle our debt. It’s time for white people to not just share the crumbs of American success, but return what we’ve stolen through centuries of ropes and feet and knees on Black American necks.
It is long past due for white America to take responsibility for repairing the centuries of harm we have caused.
II. There’s Nothing Wrong With Black People That Ending Racism Can’t Solve
In today’s America, being called a “racist” is among the worst possible insults. It’s so emotionally charged that people rarely self-reflect and admit to their prejudices. I will never forget the moment I realized I harbored racist views.
I’d grown up in an affluent predominantly white suburb in Orange County, California, with lush parks, safe streets and pristine cul de sacs. Only 1% of my neighbors were Black. That was my normal.
When I enrolled at Stanford, professors and alumni taught me that people who looked like me — wealthy, elite-educated white American men — were destined to lead. The only time I remember discussing racism in class was when a white male Economics professor claimed that the free market would stamp out racism. So much for that theory.
A few years ago, as part of my antiracism journey, I visited Dr. Khalil Muhammad, a Harvard scholar who focuses on the history of race in the United States from a public policy lens. In 2010, Dr. Muhammad made waves when he wrote the award-winning book The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America.
“Part of being antiracist,” Dr. Muhammad said, almost in a whisper, “is believing there is absolutely nothing wrong with Black people.”
What he’d said seemed obvious. That wasn’t advice I needed. My anti-racist bona-fides were validated by my resume, I thought.
The previous decade, I had led CollegeSpring, a nonprofit I co-founded that trains teachers at high-poverty schools to prepare students for the SAT’s. I’d raised $15 million, led a staff of 25, and oversaw programs that served 19,000 students of color.
How could I be racist? I had created opportunities for Black and Brown youth to go to college and improve their lives. I had been invited to the White House because Obama’s administration wanted to highlight our organization as a promising model. Of course, I believed that white and Black people are equal.
But did I, really? True belief in equality requires conviction that negative stereotypes about others are not just exaggerated, but false; that disparities — like the racial gaps in wealth, education, health, incarceration, housing, and more — cannot at all be explained by genetic or cultural differences.
If I’m being honest, I’ve felt my body stiffen when I pass a group of Black men. I’ve doubted Black people’s intelligence when they made a math error, or misremembered a detail.
And I’ve verbalized racist thoughts, too. Like when I told a Black Stanford classmate — who just a few years later gave an acclaimed talk at TED — after a mock job interview that he should overhaul his communications style.
Growing up, I was taught only bad people had racist thoughts. I was told to never reveal prejudice — not because stereotypes were necessarily untrue, but because it was disrespectful.
Until recently, I wondered if it was rare to have racist thoughts. I was afraid to ask other white people if they did, too. What if no one else did? What if something was wrong with me?
It turns out racist thinking is common among white people. I haven’t found a scientific study, and it’s a topic few discuss publicly. But in private settings, almost every white person I’ve talked to acknowledges having racist thoughts.
No one told me where these ideas came from. I wasn’t taught that absorbing racist ideas about Black people — through the media, our education system, everyday people, and even elected officials — was part of how I was socialized as an American.
Over time, I learned new things about Black people’s lives that chipped away at these negative stereotypes. But it wasn’t until Dr. Muhammad forced me to confront my biases directly that the foundation of my bigoted views began to crumble.
III. White Supremacy Isn’t The Shark, It’s The Water
Accepting negative stereotypes about Black people has wide-ranging implications.
For those who believe negative stereotypes are valid, the yardstick doesn’t need to be parity, since Black people supposedly have deficiencies. For some white people, Civil Rights legislation and President Obama’s election proved we’re a post-racial society. These are signs of progress, but they are arbitrary markers — set by white people who claim racism is no longer an issue.
When we believe in stereotypes, we treat white and Black people — consciously and unconsciously — differently, which maintains disparities. When police officers, doctors, teachers, bosses, investors, politicians, and others who shape trajectories treat white people better, unearned advantages snowball into colossal rewards that elevate white people and shut Black people out.
This compounded unearned advantage says nothing about how hard any individual works or the quality of their choices. Rather, it acknowledges that white people obtain a premium on their positive efforts and a discount on their missteps. And the basics of compound interest dictate that even a slightly higher annual return produces great advantages over lifetimes. The effects are even more profound when they are allowed to compound across generations.
As a result, even subtle negative stereotypes and unconscious biases can have pernicious, massive effects.
If we believe negative stereotypes about a marginalized group, by definition we believe in positive stereotypes about the dominant group. Scholars call this phenomenon internalized supremacy. In the context of whiteness, it’s called white supremacy.
White supremacy is a radioactive phrase. We’re reluctant to even say it. But if we don’t say it, we can’t fix it.
“White supremacy,” poet Guante reminds us, “is not a shark; it is the water.”
So, here is my confession: white supremacy has seeped deep into my pores, and I’m still working out how to expel it.
IV. Charity Is Good, But It’s Not A Substitute For Justice
When I led CollegeSpring, offering an educational leg-up to Black and Brown teens in poverty, I was fueled by our impact on individual lives. I cheered our students’ passage through college and stayed in touch as they built adult lives. But as proud as I am of our work, I’ve also come to see how insufficient it is.
Our students face so many barriers beyond college access. I’ve watched their families wrestle with the challenges of poverty, poor healthcare, substandard education, and discrimination in our criminal justice system. I’ve tried hard to remain optimistic. After all, every nonprofit has a narrative for how its efforts will impact larger systems. If big enough checks are written, organizations like ours promise, gaps will close.
But the gaps aren’t closing. In comparison to white people, Black people are twice as likely to die as infants, twice as likely to be below proficient in fourth grade, four times as likely to be suspended in school, three times as likely to be searched on a routine traffic stop, seven times as likely to be incarcerated as an adult, four times as likely to be denied a loan, twice as likely to not own a home, and three times as likely to die from Coronavirus.
Socioeconomic differences only partially explain disparities. Black men earn less than white men raised in similar circumstances. Black men from two parent homes earn less than white men from single parent homes. Sons of the wealthiest Black families are as likely to be incarcerated as sons of working-class white families. That’s a function of discrimination, not deficiency.
When identical resumes are sent out with names that sound either Black or white, white men with criminal records are more likely to receive job interviews than Black men whose pasts are squeaky clean.
Due to the intergenerational advantage of compounding wealth passed down, white high school dropouts are wealthier than Black college graduates. When Black people finally save enough to buy a home, they usually end up in neighborhoods where homes appreciate less quickly, or even decline in value.
Programs like CollegeSpring do change lives, and that’s worth every dollar we invest. But it’s not enough. Charity will never substitute for broad and sustained systemic justice.
V. There Is Nothing Black People Can Do To Avoid Racism
In March 2019, just days after a racist attack killed fifty Muslims at a New Zealand mosque, Black students at Harvard Business School found an alarming email in their inboxes.
“We’re coming for you slaves, too,” the anonymous email said. “Our platform is also going to be used to incentivize killing worthless n — . May the race wars rise to the next level.”
The Black student community was shaken. Hours and hours went by, and the source of the threat was still not identified. Students came to class, not knowing if terrorists were waiting.
The friend who texted me a screenshot of the hateful message had been at a campus party a few months earlier where a white male student proclaimed “There’s no Black people here, right?” before retelling a story using the n-word. Even at Harvard (especially at Harvard?), racism was lurking behind every corner. I worried for my friends’ safety. Why does this keep happening?
Fortunately, in this case, no violence materialized. But the threat carried power just the same. It was no accident that the next generation of Black leaders was targeted. White supremacist threats reflect a long tradition of using intimidation and violence to cut down Black success.
Those tense days took me back to the prior spring, when I’d visited a Black woman in Alabama whose family had been torn apart by white supremacist violence.
Josephine Bolling McCall grew up in Lowndes County, Alabama. Born in 1942, Josephine was raised in the Jim Crow South. Her father Elmore, rose from poverty to build a trucking business that employed many people and sustained his family.
But Elmore’s success drew envy from the white folks in their town — where any Black advancement was considered a challenge to white supremacy. One night in 1947, white terrorists followed Elmore home. The next day, Elmore was found dead, with six pistol bullets in his chest and a shotgun bullet in his back. He was one of four thousand Black people lynched in the century after the Civil War.
White terrorism drove millions of Black people north, where they became unwelcome urban refugees. Whites fled for the suburbs, where legal edicts and civic pacts barred Black people from renting or owning. That stranded penniless Black migrants in deteriorating urban centers. And instead of investing in Black people and communities, we hired more police, built more private prisons, and launched a war on Black people that we disguised as the War on Drugs.
As Josephine documents in her book The Penalty For Success, Elmore’s only transgression was being “too successful.” Sadly, his death unraveled his survivors in ways that would persist for generations to come. Without a male breadwinner in a viciously racist and sexist era, the family quickly depleted its wealth. The Bollings have had to claw their way back ever since.
VI. Compound Interest Is The Eighth Wonder Of The World — If You’re White
My great-grandfather Dave immigrated to the United States from what is now Ukraine. Dave and his family left to escape persecution from the Russian Czar.
Elmore and Dave had a lot in common. The two men were born just a few years apart, Elmore in 1908 and Dave in 1911. Both started with just a few dollars to their names and became pioneering entrepreneurs.
Dave saved enough to purchase a pickle plant. With those profits, he bought apartments in Sherman Oaks, an upscale suburb of Los Angeles that is about 5% Black. To this day, Black residents of Sherman Oaks face discrimination, like when a pair of Black residents discovered racist letters taped to their doors two days ago. Nevertheless, my family’s apartment building increased in value for decades, eventually representing a considerable fortune.
There’s a notion in this country that hard work and perseverance can lift anybody over barriers and limits. My immigrant ancestors’ experience seems to testify to that. But we cannot ignore that being white fundamentally shaped their experiences.
If Dave had been Black, he would’ve been forbidden from buying that real estate, because redlining kept Black people out of affluent white communities. Well into the 1960s, the federal government, financial institutions, and community leaders all upheld the practice of denying loans and enforcing racial covenants to keep Black people confined to urban ghettos.
From 1934 to 1962, the government made $120 billion in loans, 98% of which went to white people. That alone is $2.2 trillion in today’s dollars; on top of that, real home values have increased sixfold since 1940. If redlining had not occurred, Black people collectively might be twice as wealthy today.
Without the pickle plant and apartments, my great-grandfather would have had no wealth to pass down. And without that substantial inheritance, his children and grandchildren — my grandparents and parents — would not have been able to invest in businesses that enriched them financially.
I would not have been raised in an affluent community with strong public services. I would not have received gifts from my grandmother that allowed me to graduate from college debt free and purchase my first home. And since my home is appreciating in value and I receive a mortgage tax deduction from the federal government, my unearned wealth is growing exponentially.
“Handouts” like these help white people like me stay wealthy. Over the next 30 years, the next generation is set to inherit $36 trillion. And over 90% of inherited wealth flows to white people. In fact, the majority of the $200 billion mortgage deduction benefits each year go to high-income families. It’s one of many “upside down” tax programs that principally benefit the wealthy — and broaden racial disparities.
White people like to say our ancestors came to America with nothing. But if we are being honest, they came with exclusive and exploitative access to opportunity in the greatest wealth-building era in the history of the world. And many of the beliefs and policies that privileged my ancestors remain in place today.
VII. Can Reparations Really Work?
In summer 2019, I spent twelve weeks on a grant from the Ford Foundation conducting background research for a book I’m writing about inequality.
As I learned more about the scale of the racial wealth gap and how racist structures had been cemented across centuries, I saw how inhumane it was for white people to demand Black people take personal responsibility for thriving in a system that had locked them out of opportunity for centuries.
“It is cruel jest,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”
Over time, I’ve come to see reparations as a direct path to meaningfully advancing racial equity. In a capitalist system, capital is an advantage and a source of power. In such a system, as long as Black people have less capital, Black people will be disadvantaged and have less power.
Bringing Black people to the same monetary starting line as white people is the bare minimum necessary for Black people to begin to catch up.
While reparations can and should take many forms, one advantage of federal cash payments is they directly enhance individual agency at a national scale. If Black people have the financial resources to withstand emergencies and invest in their families and communities, Black people can thrive.
Reparations is often dismissed as a pie-in-the-sky idea too complicated to implement. Who deserves to benefit? How much should they receive? Where will the money come from?
Fortunately, reparations programs implemented around the world offer blueprints we can learn from. Germany paid reparations to Israel for the Holocaust. Canada paid reparations to its indigenous populations for segregation. South Africa paid reparations to victims of apartheid.
Even here in America, reparations are not new. We gave Japanese-Americans who were ordered into internment camps during World War II reparations, beginning with the bipartisan, $1.2 billion Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which Ronald Reagan signed into law. Four years later, George H.W. Bush added a $400 million amendment. The act provided $20,000 — $40,000 in today’s dollars — for each former internee who was alive when the act was passed.
Those internment camp victims shouldn’t have had to wait four decades for redress. Four centuries is nothing less than an atrocity.
Ironically, white Americans received reparations for slavery. When President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Emancipation Act in 1862, white people loyal to the Union were paid up to $300 for every enslaved person freed. At the time, land sold for $3 to $5 per acre. Black people never got their 40 acres and a mule, but white slaveowners got that and then some.
When reparations are viewed through a racial equity lens, the racial wealth gap — estimated in 2017 at $10.3 trillion — is an obvious financial target. But different views exist about who should benefit from a reparations program.
My personal view is that since every Black American is harmed by negative stereotypes in ways that are costly and quantifiable — and that were created to justify slavery and racial oppression — every Black American should receive reparations. Just as all white Americans benefit from white supremacy, all Black Americans — including recent immigrants — are harmed by it.
Cash reparations are expensive, but it’s still feasible. In his 2020 book From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, Duke economist William Darity, Jr. proposes reparations be paid out by the federal reserve over ten years. Recent stimulus payouts during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate that when citizens our government values are impacted, trillions of dollars can be made available. If Black Lives Matter, reparations is an obvious goal.
The money could come from federal coffers. Or the wealthiest 1% — a group that is 91% white and worth $25 trillion — could pay. Assuming a conservative annual investment return of 5%, the top 1% is becoming $1.25 trillion richer every year. Darity estimates that the racial wealth gap could be closed by 2030 with a ten-year investment of $1 trillion per year. If the top 1% were just willing to get richer less quickly, we could close the racial wealth gap within a decade.
Getting the specifics of a reparations plan right is difficult and important. Yes, the moral and economic considerations are complicated, but we’ve figured out how to implement large-scale, complex federal programs before. A country that is working on sending its citizens to Mars should have no problem achieving racial equity on its own soil.
VIII. Racial Justice Requires Not Only Restitution, But Repair
While reparations are the most direct way to close the racial wealth gap, sustaining racial equity across systems is a far more difficult task. Negative stereotypes, unconscious bias, overt bigotry, and institutional racism cemented over centuries will not disappear overnight.
To achieve racial justice — a proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts and outcomes for all — we must reimagine a set of institutions and systems that enable every person to thrive.
Equity is a meaningful first step, but too often equity means trying to adjust after the fact for the disparities racist systems produce. Racial justice requires more than restitution; it also requires repair.
Even if the racial wealth gap were closed, white people would still have a near-monopoly on political and economic power in the United States. In fact, every time Black people have made significant gains, white Americans have abused their power to roll back reforms. Major steps toward racial justice — the abolition of slavery, the introduction of Civil Rights protections, the election of President Barack Obama — always inspire white backlash.
Current systems reproduce disparities, and white retaliation against Black people who receive cash payments should be anticipated. So, without further systemic change, we should expect the racial wealth gap to quickly reopen. One way to plan ahead would be to pack extra cash into a reparations proposal, providing a financial cushion by overshooting the present gap.
But cash alone is not enough. If racial justice is ever to become a durable reality, every white person and every historically white institution must reckon with the entirety of the ideological, institutional, interpersonal, and internalized harm racism has caused.
Some institutions are starting to move in this direction. Last year, Georgetown University announced it would raise $400,000 a year to benefit the descendants of the 272 enslaved people who were sold to help keep the college afloat nearly two centuries ago. Last November, the city council in Evanston, Illinois established a reparations program supported by 100% of the sales tax revenue from recreational marijuana purchases. Last month, the California Assembly’s Judiciary Committee approved a bill requiring the state to create an eight-member commission to examine California’s involvement in slavery. H.R.40 — a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that proposes a commission that will examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies — has over 120 sponsors. These are just a few of the efforts attempting to repair past harm through future actions.
The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) offers a glimpse into what a comprehensive reparative program might look like. M4BL’s five-point Reparations platform calls for free lifetime education; a guaranteed minimum livable income; a meaningful, strategic investment in communities; curriculum and learning; and federal recognition and reckoning.
And repair is not only about where we invest, but where we divest. In its Invest-Divest plank, the M4BL calls for divestments including defunding the police, decriminalizing an array of offenses, immediately releasing non-violent offenders, and reducing military expenditures. Every institution has entrenched interests, so divestment is bound to spark its own resistance. But without both sides of the equation, repair is incomplete.
IX. Real Social Change Is Black-Led
While I’ve studied reparations and have my own ideas for how a repair agenda might be implemented, it is not my role as a white person to provide the answers. I do not personally face racial oppression. No amount of empathy or learning will ever eliminate the gaping chasms in my understanding. My decision-making framework is incomplete, and always will be.
I apologize if I’ve gotten some of this wrong. Part of my antiracist journey is accepting feedback when I am corrected by those who have the lived experience of being Black, as well as those of every color who are dedicating their lives to advancing racial justice.
My intention is not to provide a prescriptive solution, but rather to offer white people a new onramp into the conversation about reparations. Darity, M4BL, and countless other Black individuals and Black-led organizations offer an exhaustive list of explanations for why reparations are necessary and how it might be implemented. If you are a newly-sensitized white person trying to listen better to Black people, consider listening to these voices and learning why reparations are a priority for much of Black America.
White-led social change hasn’t worked. A national conversation has emerged because of outstanding organizing by Black people, Black-led coalitions, and Black groups.
Some white people who lead predominantly white institutions are suddenly eager to step up (“we’ll take it from here”). Yes, white leaders need to do better. But this moment isn’t principally about white people making better top-down decisions. It’s about white people stepping back, listening to Black people, and creating space for Black leadership. It’s about white leaders reflecting honestly: am I really the best person to be in charge?
Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, a white man and the husband of Serena Williams, has the right idea. Earlier this month, Ohanian resigned from Reddit’s board, making room for Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel to become Reddit’s first Black board member.
Expanding opportunity, like I sought to do at CollegeSpring, is important. But Ohanian’s action is significant because those of us with privilege must also return the dividends of unjust systems.
White people can’t relinquish all the privileges of being white, but we can make deep and ongoing sacrifices that make it easier to dismantle white supremacy.
X. Until We Confront White Shame, None Of Us Will Be Free
About six months ago, I learned for the first time that my ancestors were among the bigots I’ve been railing about. It was a hard confession for my Dad to make, and painful for me to hear.
When my father’s grandfather Sam would encounter a Black person walking toward him on the sidewalk, Sam forced them to cross the street. Sam picked up his racist ways in St. Louis — down the road from Ferguson — and carried them with him when the family moved to California.
My Dad’s voice dropped after he told me that. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this,” he whispered, “but your great grandfather used to have a saying, ‘The only good n — is a dead one.’”
There was a long silence. It was a somber moment. My father felt ashamed, and I felt dirty, like I needed to jump in the shower.
It shattered the picture I’d carried in my mind of my family’s legacy. Overt racism was now part of my inheritance. What had started as a conversation about my grandparents’ political views had taken a surprising detour. My Dad seemed bewildered by where the conversation had turned. He hadn’t planned to ever tell me about what Sam believed. Until that moment, he must have been certain Sam’s repugnant views had gone with him to the grave.
My Dad didn’t withhold Sam’s dark past to perpetuate systemic racism. He was trying to protect me and my family, to help us avoid the burden of awful truths. And he was trying to help our society move forward. My Dad remembers an even more racist America — an America where Sam’s behavior was the norm — and sought to help put that past to rest.
While my Dad’s intentions were good, that let bygones-be-bygones approach is central to how white people evade responsibility. We have to shed our reluctance to confront ugly realities. For many of us, racism is closer to home than we are willing to admit.
When Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote The Case for Reparations in The Atlantic in 2014, he called for “an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts … a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt.”
When my Dad shared our family secret with me, I inherited the ghost of my great grandfather’s racism. I felt the Monster living inside me. I still do.
That Monster is called Shame — the shame of what my ancestors have done, the shame that a part of me is reluctant to give up the excesses I enjoy, even when I know those excesses rely on the public executions, deprivation, and dehumanization of Black people.
My partner Pooja works long shifts as a surgery resident, so I had to wait a few hours before I could tell her what my Dad had told me. By the time she got home, I felt like I was covered in blood, that I had done something horrible I didn’t know I was capable of.
A voice in my head was pleading. I’m the same person. I promise. Please believe me. Would she understand? Would she see me differently? Would she trust me less? Would she still love me?
I think the reason white people say they don’t have a racist bone in their body is because, deep down, we know racism runs like a current through our bones. We’re afraid that if someone looks close enough, they’ll discover our secret.
Shame is a powerful monster, and it thrives in darkness. Learning to be antiracist — in the intellectual sense — is the easy part. What’s hard is that the path to antiracism requires divulging that we were, and to some extent are, racist. That we are still struggling to see fellow human beings as fully human.
It may seem counterintuitive, but most of the time, being open about how I am working through my own racism inspires compassion. I think that’s because I didn’t choose to be racist; I inherited it, from my ancestors, and from a country that has been too afraid to face into its past.
Repair isn’t just for Black people; it’s for white people, too. White supremacy turns cold what should be one of our most natural instincts, to feel Black pain. Seeing Black people as fully human is how we become fully human again, too.
“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
– Nelson Mandela
* * *
Garrett Neiman is co-founder of Liberation Ventures, a new effort fueling Black-led movements to mobilize support for racial justice and repair. He is also the co-founder and former CEO of CollegeSpring, a national college access nonprofit.
* Sandy Banks, Lillian Cartwright, Chuck Collins, Aria Florant, Jeff Garcia, Victoria Jones, Pooja Upadhyaya Neiman, Bev Plass, Emily Schlichting, and Aaron Thomas for providing feedback and offering ideas.
* Suzie Byers for helping me see that my writing was missing emotional vulnerability and a willingness to discuss my own flaws.
* Tiq Chapa and Dr. Khalil Muhammad for catalyzing my journey and being incredible teachers along the way.
* Ta-Nehisi Coates for writing the outstanding 2014 article that offered the blueprint for this piece.
* Aria Florant, my cofounder, who has been researching reparations and repair alongside me and whose ideas are represented throughout.
* Dr. Ron Heifetz who urged me to investigate my family’s history and opened my eyes in a number of ways.
* Dr. Ibram Kendi for his clarity about antiracism, and his vulnerable role modeling of one’s struggle with racist ideas.
* Abraham Lateiner and Mitch Lewis for leading me through affinity-based self-work to help me show up better.
Previously published on “Equality Includes You”, a Medium publication.
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Photo credit: Movement for Black Lives