8 ways to help out white america
White Americans need to mind their own business. That is not because I’m tired of explaining to white people that the dictionary’s definition of “racism” is inadequate in the way it ignores power and prioritizes prejudice (for more on that, look at this syllabus). It is because I do equity work all day, every day, and it is abundantly clear how white people feel.
White folks, as a group, rarely actually care about things like institutional racism, the plight of ICE in the life of immigrants, or the recent spike in hate crimes against brown Muslim folks. They might care enough to say “oh no,” — or a bit more when a loved one falls into a historically marginalized group — but very few care enough to actually do something about it. And that’s understandable. I guess?
What isn’t understandable, however, is that we’re approaching 3 years since the death of Mike Brown Jr. and people still respond to “Black lives matter” with “well what about the Black-on-Black crime in Chicago, huh?” If Rodney King, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, Chay Reed, Korryn Gaines, Taja DeJesus, and so many other modern day lynchings are brought up and their response is “well what about [INSERT AN ISSUE] in your community,” then they really do not, cannot, and will not care. These responses serve as a disgustingly gleeful “gotcha!” moment.
In short, however, it is not my duty to make them care, nor will I spend my precious energy on convincing such a diverse group of people tied together by privilege (read: white people) that we are truly human. White folks only recently became “white,” and as such, “Caucasian,” or white, is a banner that is kept in the air by mutual hate for whatever or whoever the masses deem “non-white.”
So instead of just ranting, I figured: why not be productive? If anyone really thinks that “all lives matter,” “white lives matter,” or “what about Chicago” is the proper way to respond to the trauma and tragedy within non-white communities, there are plenty of ways to enact change:
- White folks, and white men in particular, suffer from suicidal ideation and suicide actualization. Work on that.
- White folks typically have much lower infant mortality rates than people of color, but class and access to resources act as a mediating factor. Work on that.
- White folks are in a serious heroin and opioid epidemic right now. Work on that.
- Depending on their lineage, white folks are actually at risk for alcoholism and addiction, but it often goes unspoken in family and friend circles. Work on that.
- White poverty is and has been a huge issue. That’s one reason, outside of white supremacy, that they used Black folks for “free” labor. Work on that.
- Blue collar worker aren’t just Black and brown, they’re white, too. Blue collar workers deal with poor benefits, wage theft, high turnover, and a decline in union representation that leaves them vulnerable. Work on that.
- Anti-Black racism, anti-semitism, anti-Muslim sentiments, and more hate crimes are on the rise among white people. Work on that.
- White people are also killed by the police in very high numbers, but the absolute number versus the relative number hides it. Work on that.
I could go on, but my point is that white folks need to stop acting like they care about non-whites or even their fellow white folks. Don’t speak, act. Or speak and act, but do more than argue with Black folks on the internet. “Action” can look a number of ways, and too often our guilt/fear/shock stops us from acting. So a handy-dandy guide appears below:
- Listen and shut up.
- Read and then find like-minded folks to help hold you accountable.
- Experiment to find your lane: direct action, volunteer, donate, create, assist, write, give, teach, learn, etc
- Read s’more.
- Engage in some form of action that works for you, ensuring to leave time for personal and collective debrief.
- Adjust your lane accordingly.
- Read s’more. Action. Love.
- Remain in your chosen lane, swerving out only on accident, not on purpose.
Thank you for reading, would you mind clicking the heart below? And if you’d like, you can support my writing journey as I transition to graduate school on a regular basis with Patreon or on a one-time basis with PayPal or Square Cash. You can also follow me on twitter @anthoknees, where this piece originally began.