Black and white Americans have struggled to either overcome 401 years of brutal oppression (Black folk) or struggle to ignore 401 years of brutal oppression (white folk) and as a result Americans are entwined in a never ending ugly dance of racism, police brutality, terrible healthcare, and denial by the majority that threatens to rip the frayed seams of the country.
Black people have been talking, writing, singing, and educating white people about racism for four-hundred years but every time there’s a new uprising by Black people against – police brutality, government indifference, war, housing, jobs – white Americans are stunned and wonder “What happened?” which then lead to white people asking Black people to explain racism in a text message, via email, on Facebook, or in a group setting.
There are close to 200 million white people in America and roughly 40 million Black folk.
That’s a 5:1 ratio. Meaning every Black person has to explain racism to five white people.
Many have exceeded their quota.
We are exhausted from it.
White Americans are among the most formally educated people in world history and yet a significant portion want Black people to educate them about racism as if they haven’t lived in this country, read its books, watched its movies, watched the news, or lived in almost all-white neighborhoods.
White Americans overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump a known racist.
And those who didn’t vote for Donald and who are silent in the face of Black women and men being murdered by police are complicit.
Silence = Violence.
White Americans aren’t asking their teachers or professors, their executives or managers, their priests, preachers, or therapists to help them understand racism.
They are asking Black people.
But white people asking Black people about racism is revelatory:
White believe Black people can educate them about racism because they know we experience it from them, their friends, their family.
It can look like this in a conversation:
White Person to Black person: Will you please teach me about racism?
Black Person: What makes you think I know enough about racism to teach you?
WP: Well, there’s a lot going on in the news and I think you can help me understand.
BP: Yes, perhaps but why do you think I know about racism?
WP: Because there’s a lot of racism in America. I am certain you have experienced it.
BP: I have, yes. So let me ask you: Who do you think was racist to me?
WP: White people? White people, yes. I am certain.
BP: Why not ask them then why they are racist?
We know why.
Because it is uncomfortable to talk to friends, family, business associates and coworkers, neighbors and lovers about racism.
But somehow in America we have decided it is easier for white people to ask Black people to share their racism trauma rather than cause discomfort to white family and friends.
I still recommend white people first ask their friends and family questions of race before asking the one Black person they know.
This task isn’t easy.
Neither is being Black in America.
I want to make this point clear again: It is traumatic to ask and expect Black people to explain racism to white people.
We survive in a racist society that is designed to vilify our skin, our lips, our hair, our voices, our righteous anger, our speech, our history, our relationships, our very humanity?
We survive the only way we can and by the barest of margins.
The daily trauma at work, at school, in public spaces, watching a movie or television, or reading a book is visited upon our lives in large and small ways.
Being asked to surface what by necessity we cloak is self-centered and racist and the type of microagression that contributes to our daily stresses and anger at a country that spends time and money vilifying us until it thinks it needs us to help it learn what we teach our kids at the earliest ages.
We are not your white privilege whisperer.
Like many I have been asked by well-meaning white friends multiple times over the past month to explain racism to them.
If you are Black and as tired as I am from explaining basic racism concepts you can send the below guide in the place of revisiting yuour own trauma.
And if you are white and want help but are uncertain of where to go, then the below guide is a template for you to dive into and learn and grow as a person.
There are so many writers, essayists, artists, thinkers, journalists, poets, diplomats, sociologists, historians, and even bloggers who have information just waiting for you to discover them.
And like everything in America there are a a variety of voices and opinions because like white people, Black people are not a monolith, despite what Fox News tells you and your parents.
And that brings us to a simple guide for you. First important callout —
Don’t rely on Fox News to learn about Black people.
They are racist. Period. End of story. Bring up Fox News to your new Black friend and you’ve already lost all credibility. Further, if you bring up those five familiar Black faces Fox News likes to trot out to explain Black issues to you, you lose and deserve to lose your new Black friend.
They have extreme conservative opinions that are not representative of the vast majority of Black Americans but each is used by Fox and other conservative outlets to coon and dance a jig for white America – meaning, they’ll parrot racist talking points, and make money doing so while making racists feel good about being a racist.
There has always been money in siding with white supremacy and displaying self-hate for the world to see, and these are the current crop of self-hating Black folk making money off your racist family and friends:
Diamond and Silk
Special note: Shaun King isn’t Black. Shaun King profits off Black trauma and death, and Shaun King has misappropriated money that he raises for families, threatens to sue and bullies Black women, and has been investigated by various credible journalists for his malfeasance. Leave him out of it.
There are many others so as you venture into finding your inner racist, you’ll do best to avoid Fox News, Brietbart, The Federalist, Washington Examiner, and especially Facebook.
A word about Facebook:
Per the Mueller report – but more importantly, per every Black person, Russia uses Facebook to spread lies about Black Americans, to flood your feeds with half-truths about Black folk that are designed to reinforce white people’s racism and bias against Black Americans. They flood the website – with Mark Zuckerberg’s approval, with racist memes and gifs, doctored photos, and “bots” – fake accounts, and fake comments on posts that inflame by being racist and insensitive.
Facebook is a disinformation website whose intent is to sew the flames of anger and racism. Delete if or if you need to stay in contact with friends/family, ignore, report, and block any and all racist content.
Do not share or spread. Just report, block, delete.
I have confidence in you, white America. You’ve done some pretty good things in this country and I know you can learn how not to be racist, if you just put your minds to it.
Helpful Resources For You…
This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now. Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues. Document of resources compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein in May 2020.
Resources for white parents to raise anti-racist children:
- The Conscious Kid: follow them on Instagram and consider signing up for their Patreon
Articles to read:
- “America’s Racial Contract Is Killing Us” by Adam Serwer | Atlantic (May 8, 2020)
- Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement (Mentoring a New Generation of Activists
- ”My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” by Jose Antonio Vargas | NYT Mag (June 22, 2011)
- The 1619 Project (all the articles) | The New York Times Magazine
- The Combahee River Collective Statement
- “The Intersectionality Wars” by Jane Coaston | Vox (May 28, 2019)
- Tips for Creating Effective White Caucus Groups developed by Craig Elliott PhD
- “Where do I donate? Why is the uprising violent? Should I go protest?” by Courtney Martin (June 1, 2020)
- ”White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Knapsack Peggy McIntosh
- “Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi | Atlantic (May 12, 2020)
Videos to watch:
- Black Feminism & the Movement for Black Lives: Barbara Smith, Reina Gossett, Charlene Carruthers (50:48)
- “How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion” | Peggy McIntosh at TEDxTimberlaneSchools (18:26)
Podcasts to subscribe to:
- 1619 (New York Times)
- About Race
- Code Switch (NPR)
- Intersectionality Matters! hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw
- Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
- Pod For The Cause (from The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights)
- Pod Save the People (Crooked Media)
- Seeing White
Books to read:
- Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
- Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Dr. Brittney Cooper
- Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
- How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- Raising Our Hands by Jenna Arnold
- Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander
- The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century
by Grace Lee Boggs
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga
- When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America by Ira Katznelson
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
Films and TV series to watch:
- 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
- American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix
- Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 — Available to rent
- Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada) — Hulu with Cinemax or available to rent
- Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu) — Available to rent
- Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
- Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent
- I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
- If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
- Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent for free in June in the U.S.
- King In The Wilderness — HBO
- See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
- Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent
- The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent
- The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax
- When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
Organizations to follow on social media:
- Antiracism Center: Twitter
- Audre Lorde Project: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Black Women’s Blueprint: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Color Of Change: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Colorlines: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- The Conscious Kid: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Equal Justice Initiative (EJI): Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Families Belong Together: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Justice League NYC: Twitter | Instagram + Gathering For Justice: Twitter | Instagram
- The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- MPowerChange: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Muslim Girl: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- NAACP: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
More anti-racism resources to check out:
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- Anti-Racism Project
- Jenna Arnold’s resources (books and people to follow)
- Rachel Ricketts’ anti-racism resources
- Resources for White People to Learn and Talk About Race and Racism
- Save the Tears: White Woman’s Guide by Tatiana Mac
- Showing Up For Racial Justice’s educational toolkits
- The [White] Shift on Instagram
- “Why is this happening?” — an introduction to police brutality from 100 Year Hoodie
- Zinn Education Project’s teaching materials
And if you want to read a fantasy revenge novel that is eerily prescient to what is happening today, read my new book BLM-PD
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