Q: At marches/protests on issues on racial justice, organizers will sometimes ask the crowd to walk with a fist raised. I feel uncomfortable doing this, since the black power symbol is of a struggle I have no knowledge of, but many other white attendees seem fine doing it. Should I abstain from this particular request, or join in?
A: This is tricky. There is no real right or wrong answer here. People or all races have different opinions on this. The bigger question to ask is why are you doing this symbol and do you really believe in and promote black power?
More problematic is joining in chants like “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” I have been to many marches where white people yelled “hands up” and black folks yelled, “don’t shoot” it was all problematic as fuck.
Actions like “die ins” are another time for you to ask why you are participating. Personally, I am a white person who has been assaulted by the police and my body has often been a target of the police. I have been a target not because of my whiteness but because of other identities I hold. Choosing to participate in “die ins” has felt right many times, especially if one of our goals is to block space with our bodies.
Learn more about black power and black liberation. Talk to others who you are marching with about their reasoning for doing different chants and actions and of course, listen to the black people around you. If someone asks you to get your white fist out of the air, listen and change your ways.
Question: Do black people sing a different version of “Happy Birthday”?
Response: Happy Birthday, is not a white people thing, folks of all races sing the song.
Chris Crass has edited a new book! Towards the “Other America” Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter
Free pdf version: Chalice Press
Paperback: Amazon.com (Proceeds from sales of the book will go to Black Lives Matter the organization and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).)
The big picture goal isn’t to “not be a racist”, though that’s important. The goal is the abolition of white supremacist patriarchy and the building up of beloved community and collective liberation in the process. The question isn’t “are you a racist?” The question is “what are you doing to bring down structural inequality and end the death culture of racism?”
Towards the “Other America”: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter is a call to action to end white silence and a manual on how to do it. In addition to his own soul-searching essays and practical organizing advice in his “notes to activists,” Chris Crass lifts up the voices of longtime white anti-racist leaders organizing in white communities for Black Lives Matter.
Question: My fear of inadvertently being racist and hurting someone, and being on the receiving end of a PoC’s (justified) anger is hampering my ability to make friends and connect with PoC. How do I remedy this?
Response: As white folks, we will mess up. We say racist things, we have been socialized to be racist. Most of our fear is coming from white guilt. Guilt and fear hold us back from our authentic selves.
If someone calls you out on messed up stuff that you say or do, you need to process that, learn from it, and move on. Keep learning, keep standing, keep loving folks.
A great article about this from Sincere T. Kirabo (@sinkirabo) can be found here on The Humanist.
Being a white person standing against racism is a long journey not a quick transformation.
Also, “What is White Guilt?” from Race Equality Tools might be helpful.
Q: Do white people really not have big dicks?!?!?
A: So, I do a lot of sex education in my day-job and I assume that you are a troll and meant this as a joke to see if this site would really answer your troll question. However, this myth of racial groups having different penis sizes is so prevalent that I feel it is worth a couple minutes to answer your question.
Q: Can you recommend some reading or sources regarding current presidential candidates’ thoughts and positions relative to Black Lives Matter (both support and critiques of their platforms/ideas/etc.)?
A: So, this is something you will just have to do on your own. This is not said to be dismissive of your question but, we are still over a year away from the election and the candidates are changing their platforms, positions, etc on an almost daily basis.
What we can do is offer some readings that folks are writing about the candidate pool, about policy and legislative changes.
Q: Can you explain a little bit more about the issue of representation in media? I’ve been trying to explain to white friends why a population that is a minority shouldn’t be represented in such a small way, but am having a hard time explaining when pushed. In other words, the question I get is: Doesn’t it make sense that movies would reflect the reality of having a majority white population? Feels very “oy” but I can’t think of a good response.
A: So, I’m not sure I completely understand the question but here are some thoughts.
Yes, movies reflect a white population. The thing is the percentage of non-Hispanic white people in the U.S. population has reached an all-time low: 63%. The NY Daily News reported in 2013 that “Nearly half of American children younger than 5 are minorities, and the number of minorities under 18 is expected to surpass the number of white children by 2019. The total minority population has grown 21 times faster than the white population.” Continue reading
There are many great resources out there for white people to learn about history. Especially for those of us who grew up in predominantly white communities in the US, we were often not taught the truth about our country, about racism, or let’s face it… we were not taught about anyone except the white colonialists, and maybe MLK.
It is our responsibility to learn. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves. Below are a few resources pulled together, specifically regarding Charleston, SC. Please add more in the comments area.