Thoughts of a long-time ally, respectfully offered in the wake of George Floyd’s death⚘
Have we gotten to a place where WHITE SILENCE = RACISM?
Yesterday I might have said White Silence = Being Complicit. Today that doesn’t cut it. “But I have Black friends and don’t use derogatory language.” Nope, doesn’t cut it. “But compared to blatant White supremacists…” Nope, doesn’t cut it.
White privilege is real. I have it. “That invisible package of unearned assets and advantages.” Not quite overt prejudice, it’s a whole collection of passive advantages that I inherited and unconsciously or consciously accept. Yes, there are impoverished White communities who don’t participate in “privilage” defined by wealth. That is a different conversation beyond the pervasive, insidious legacy of advantage based on race.
If you are White, you may feel some pushback or defensiveness rising up while you read this. That’s a good sign. Acknowledge it. Now, put it on the shelf and move beyond it. You’ve just taken a vital step into the solution.
For some, this awareness may create a feeling of guilt which can lead to anything from retreating back into numb denial to commencing a ‘missionary’ type crusade. Rescue missions, though well intended, can be disempowering, presumptive and insulting.
The worthy work of becoming a collaborative ally takes effort and alertness. A few questions I ask myself:
1. Am I holding other White people accountable in social settings by speaking out in the face of racist remarks?
2. Am I engaged in organizations led by people of color?
3. Am I actively engaged in eliminating systems that benefit me based on race?
4. Can I interrupt racism in a collaborative effort, listening carefully and speaking out when called for?
5. Have I accepted that racism is a White issue requiring my participation?
Through the past four decades, my conscious journey as an ally has deepened and evolved through my internship at the EEOC.gov in the ’70s, reading the books of LoreneCary.com and others, active participation and volunteerism in organizations like ArtSanctuary.org , Philadelphia’s Black Theater Festival and The AtticYouthCenter.org. My ongoing support of organizations like #SouthernpovertyLawCenter slpc.org and #Blacklivesmatter is important, but in my experience, real change comes when White people like me stop accepting the legacy of White privilege which silently and subliminally diminishes, oppresses and kills. George Floyd. #GeorgeFloyd ⚘