An exceptional conversation I’m having lately with white culture friends, family and clients is directed towards what they can do next.
Collectively, as white people stand up to break the white code silence, they are met with a flurry of emotional weight. This work takes courage and resilience and it’s absolutely not a one-time event. I’m talking about the people who are ready to put in the work. The white allies, accomplices and co-conspirators who are consistent in their social media activism, are trying to stay educated on current news and who are digging into deep issues in their community.
I relate with white allies who are struggling to find their footings right now but are wanting to keep going. They have to instantly face their fragility, make amends with their privilege, say the right thing, don’t say the wrong thing, piss off their families, divide their communities, process hateful comments and DM’s and do it all with a sense of authenticity.
They are critiqued for every syllable, capital letter and punctuation mark made online. This shit is real-time. And from what I’ve seen, it’s trauma-inducing and delivered mostly through the keyboards of other white culture citizens.
Stop Bickering with Each Other.
Look, we’re all made of similar emotional and mental components and we all face the same roadblocks in relation to endurance and confidence. I read an article the other day where the writer opened a conversation about the instinctual human need to place labels on people and situations, which got me thinking deeper.
[Racist] [Anti-racist] Once we label people, our minds gain instinct to narrow ever so slightly. We start to pigeon hole the experience and perspectives delivered from that person. We begin to hear them in a heightened narrative of that chosen label. If a person makes a racist comment, we’re sticking a post-it note on their dang forehead with RACIST written in big bold sharpie.
Any words out of their mouth thereafter, are commonly met with a subconscious mission to call out more racist comments. At this point, we’re leaning the conversation closer to hate than the productivity of compassion and love. All of which makes it really tricky for a person to keep speaking up.
Ultimately, humans are basic AF with instinctual labelling and judging deeply ingrained in our mental capacity. Especially for someone whose ego is unchecked and emotional intelligence is lacking, but that is an entirely other conversation.
Abandon the Labels.
I believe we’ve got to meet in the middle somewhere. There is much unlearning to do for white culture individuals who were raised in a white bubble, of mostly unknowingly, racially-biased perspectives. This work is deep internal processing and evaluating in order to relearn and take action.
This work requires self-reflection potentially beyond your current capacity and practice. This shit takes time. Unravelling racism is a process and labelling, name-calling, and ostracizing isn’t gonna help open anyone’s mind nor deliver actionable education on how to move forward.
Now, of course, some individuals are actually just blatant racist jerks walking the earth seeing melanin as the root of all evil in their tiny lives. They are vile little creatures roaming around aiming to purposely hurt people. When you cross paths with a true racist, there is little that can be done here.
I recommend backing away from that wasp nest and dedicating your energy to connecting the voices targeted toward the change we seek.
The true racists are far outnumbered now anyway. They are outdated, and in my opinion, petty. Don’t waste your breath, instead focus on the problem, not the surface scratch. We need to dig the roots of racism out of our systems. Workplace, schools, government, policing, etc. It’s easy to be distracted by a hater spewing hate when they are actually not the roots we aim to destroy.
So as a white culture ally seeking the next steps, what can you do?
Stay Brave. Get Organized.
There are several monumental struggles ahead for you.
While the worst and longest standings racial battles have been inflicted on BIPOC citizens, the successes of the future rest now on the shoulders of white culture. OUR voices through YOUR networks are vital to amplifying the message of diversity, equity and inclusion. Not just for right now, but for all time, moving forward in a steady progression.
White culture has that ability now and if you go quiet, we lose ground.
If you permit the historical pattern of passivity, then the cycle of racism continues throughout your family, community and workplace. While we are fighting in the streets, and organizing in the Senate and redesigning educational curriculum, and demanding justice for those fallen, and digging into the depth of white supremacy in the police system, you MUST gather your resources and keep your network talking.
So here’s the big questions:
Do you have the courage and resilience to do your part?
Will you risk conflict with family members?
Will you learn to stop a racist joke in action?
Can you help create equity and inclusion in your workplace?
Will you speak up, raise awareness and continue this conversation?
Will you tactfully and intelligently open a conversation to address a racist action and then hold space to see it through?
Will you seek the education needed to do this to the best of your ability?