Lots of conversations are happening since the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020.
Lots of indignation, sadness and anger.
Lots of us white folks are very confronted by the concept that if we are not “anti-racist” we are, by default, pandering to systemic racism.
This is a hard truth to swallow and an even harder one to address in our daily lives both personal and professional…and yet, we must address it if our world is ever going to change.
Now is the time.
What does this mean?
First, to all of our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) friends, and the Black Community specifically, it means we see you and we are listening. We are getting educated by reading, watching and getting educated.
To all of our white friends, we invite you to come alongside us and get educated yourself. Give up the idea that “you have black friends”, “you raised your kids to be color-blind”, “you’re not racist”.
These ideas have actually allowed systemic racism to persist, fester and expand it’s reach. We feel that if we don’t have a personal experience of negative feelings toward black and brown people, then it just isn’t happening…right? Wrong!
We must become students of learning how to undo the injustice that pervades our systems: education, law enforcement, housing, access to health care and proper nutrition, career advancement…you name it…systemic racism exists in all of our institutions.
I’m sharing some ideas that I have picked up over the past week from other entrepreneurs, companies and organizations looking to be part of the solution.
Here are some things I’ve picked up:
Take responsibility to educate yourself, no matter if you’re just curious or even if you consider yourself a “non-racist.” Do not expect (or ask) Black people to teach you. They have carried the burden of racism for long enough; it’s our turn to do the work. All of these things are free.
- This link is a phenomenal place to start. Do not skip any sections because they seem inconvenient. If you’ve ever had thoughts like “but I’m not racist” or “all lives matter” or “can’t we all just love one another,” or if you’re simply just not sure where to start, start by reading Antiracismforbeginners.com in detail.
- The next article you should read is this one: Five Racist Anti-Racism Responses “Good” White Women Give to Viral Posts (I know this one will make many of you feel uncomfortable. Lean into this discomfort.)
- This new podcast episode with Brené Brown (a White woman) interviewing Professor Ibram X. Kendi (a Black man and author of How to Be an Antiracist) is deeply insightful and one of the best interviews I’ve heard; I highly recommend listening to it. You can find it in any podcast app, or simply click here for a 1-click play button to listen online.
- Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique W. Morris
- Not Quite Not White: Losing and Finding Race in America by Sharmila Sen
- Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
- On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope by DeRay Mckesson
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
- Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman
- When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Asha Bandele, Angela Y. Davis (Foreword)
- This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins
- We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang
- Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
- Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States, edited by Joe Macaré, Maya Schenwar, and Alana Yu-lan Price
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
- Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Articles and blog posts
- “The White Space” by Elijah Anderson, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 2015, Vol. 1(1) 10–21, American Sociological Association
- “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, June 2014
- “How White Managers Can Respond to Anti-Black Violence,” by Michael W. Kraus, Yale Insights
- “Why CEO Black Lives Matter Communications Are Critical: A DIBs Leader’s Perspective,” by Erin L. Thomas, VP, head of diversity, inclusion, and belonging, Upwork
- “Where do I donate? Why is the uprising violent? Should I go protest?” Medium post by Courtney Martin
Films and TV shows
- When They See Us
- Just Mercy
- Dear White People (Netflix series)
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- Fruitvale Station
- I Am Not Your Negro
Instagram accounts to follow
Black-owned businesses to support
- “Black-Owned Bookstores to Support Now,” Publishers Weekly
- “125 Best Black-Owned Beauty Brands to Support Right Freakin’ Now” by Julee Wilson, Cosmopolitan, June 2, 2020
- “Here’s a list of more than 200 black-owned food businesses in L.A.” by Jenn Harris, Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2020
- “Black-Owned Restaurant Lists Circulating the Internet, Organized by City” by the Bon Appétit staff, June 4, 2020
Resources for parents
- “George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?” by Alia E. Dastagir, USA Today, May 31, 2020
- “Talking Race With Young Children,” NPR, April 26, 2019
- “Raising White Kids Author On How White Parents Can Talk About Race,” NPR All Things Considered, May 31, 2020
- Racism and Violence: How to Help Kids Handle the News, Child Mind Institute
- “Framing Brave Conversations About Race and Ethnicity” (PDF), Leading Equity Center
- “George Floyd, Racism and Law Enforcement: Table Talk: Family Conversations about Current Events,” Anti-Defamation League
- “Teaching About Racism, Violence, Inequity and the Criminal Justice System,” Anti-Defamation League
- “Anti-racism resources for white people,” Google doc compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein, May 2020
- “Resources on Environmental Justice, Racism, and Whiteness,” Washington Environmental Council
- “An Essential Reading Guide for Fighting Racism” by Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed News, May 29, 2020
- “Attending a Protest: Surveillance Self Defense,” Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Resource guide comprising bail funds, memorial funds, mutual aid, and advice for protesters by Twitter user @botanicaldyke
- Talking About Race: a resource portal from the National Museum of African American History & Culture
- Resource guide: “a working document for scaffolding anti-racism resources” by Anna Stamborski, Nikki Zimmermann, and Bailie Gregory
- The Movement for Black Lives: a series of daily actions to put an “end to the criminalization, incarceration, and killing” of black people. Examples include organizing a march or a Twitter storm, displaying a banner in your yard, providing materials such as masks and hand sanitizer to protesters, and much more. The actions are color-coded green, yellow, and red to indicate the level of safety risk associated with each.
- Mental Health Issues Facing the Black Community
- Start conversations with friends and family (and kids if you have them) about race and justice. Point out examples of racism and injustice when they show up in your world, on television, in the media, etc. You do not have to (and cannot) solve the world’s problems in one conversation. The goal isn’t to walk away like you solved something or wrapped it in a bow. The goal is to open the conversation so you can continue heartfelt discussions. Openly discuss what’s happening in the world.
- Self-reflect and identify your own blind spots. We all have them, and this is what doing “the work” is all about.
- If someone in your circle makes a racist comment, tell them it’s racist. You don’t have to be defensive or yell. You can’t control what other people do and say but call people out on racist jokes and comments.
- Ask your Black friends how they’re doing. Check-in on them and ask if they need anything; they may be suffering in silence right now. Do not ask them to educate you. Listen to them.
I realize we live in challenging times right now and this may or may not be an option right now. If you have room to donate, consider donating to support organizations on the front lines of anti-racism work.
Here are some suggestions if you need them:
- Black Lives Matter
- Color of Change
- The ACLU
- Southern Poverty Law Center
If financial support isn’t an option right now, consider supporting organizations in other ways.
This is an election year in the US. Please, please, please vote and encourage your friends and family to vote, too, for candidates supporting anti-racist platforms. Every election counts, every vote counts.
Please don’t give up, don’t despair and don’t trivialize. Together, we can usher in a new era.