In fighting racism, the goal—for those of us who are white and want collective liberation—is to help support, encourage, resource, listen to, invite and bring in as many white people as possible into liberation values, culture, action, community, and movement.
If white people are expressing outrage or shock about the hate speech they’ve observed during and post-election—trying to be allies but show up in ways that people of color don’t find helpful—don’t come down on those white folks in ways that alienates them and shuts them down; bring them along. I understand why people of color have no time for that, but we, as white people, are the ones that need to have time for that, to listen, to connect, and to support bringing those feelings to action and being part of the movement. Remember, what would be terrible is if no white people were outraged or shocked, so white people doing something not-quite-awesome in their effort to protest racism and be in solidarity with people of color, those are problems we want.
It’s important to keep things in big perspective so we are building up and seeing the wide range of people who are on our side and need our support, rather than having a high bar for where people need to already be, and then tearing them down for failing.
To be clear, I’m not saying people of color should do this work or have this approach, and that feedback from people of color on what works and doesn’t with white anti-racists efforts is key to our ability to be effective, but our task as white anti-racists isn’t just to pass on critique from people of color and say “see, look, you’re still a racist”, it’s to make sense of the critique from people of color and then bring grounded leadership to help white people show up even better for racial justice.
Our purpose isn’t just pointing out white racism; that is part of it. Our primary purpose is to help white people believe another world is possible, want it in their heart and soul, and rock it for racial justice—with a focus on action in the world, rather than knowing and using all the “right” language and references.
Where peoples’ hearts are is way more important to me than if they have the “right analysis”.
The pain and grief and hurt are in us and being expressed by millions all around us. Supremacy systems want us to turn that on each other and ourselves.
When the Ministry of Magic fell to the Death Eaters in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, rather than asking “Where the hell were you before?” to all those who joined in the fight against Voldemort, the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army brought leadership to the mass movement—of mostly people who hadn’t been active before—to bring down the Death Eaters.
They focused on giving direction on what needed to be done while both developing people along the way and leaving room for new people to bring their own powers and insights to the fight.
Let’s do our emotional, spiritual, personal work, and engage in our own learning and growing in these times so that we can show up and bring healing, helpful and liberatory leadership, rather than deal with our pain, anger, and hurt by inflicting it on each other. The death eaters are on the march, but so are we, from high school walk-outs against the election results, to Black Lives Matter, to undocumented immigrant actions, to women against misogyny rising, to Standing Rock.
Love and rage, forward!
Photo credit: Flickr/Takver