Your Guide On How to Support Black People After Incidents of Police Violence

Great article by  on Everyday Feminism, “Your Guide On How to Support Black People After Incidents of Police Violence

It’s not your fault that Black people are systemically seen as inhuman, but you can be part of our oppression if you don’t name anti-Blackness when you notice it – or if you’re unable to have conversations with non-Black people about anti-Blackness.

I need to mourn. I need to be there for my family in these violent times. But I also need you.

I need you to commit to stand by our side, and to not make this about you. I need you to acknowledge that being Black in the US is an experience like no other.

And if you really believe in solidarity and allyship, here are ten things you can do right now to support us.

Read the rest of:  “Your Guide On How to Support Black People After Incidents of Police Violence

The impact of white cis-male privilege

Question: So, I am in a group called Dear White America. Someone posted an article saying that white men are the new terrorists. Though I question whether that is something actually new, I agreed with the premise of the article. The comments really bothered me. One woman was saying that white women are responsible for the violence of white men. I totally disagree with that! Though the privilege of benefitting from a relationship with a white male and the attendant privilege is clear, to say that white women are not simultaneously victimized by white male violence is just not borne out statistically, at all. When I brought this into the discussion, I was accused of being a typical white feminist deflecting responsibility for my privilege.  Even though I clearly stated that I see a distinction between systemic racism and personal racism. So my question is, how do I handle this? Because as of right now, I am not going to say that women bear responsibility for violence inflicted upon them by men! And though the metaphor is poor, that logic leads to saying that slaves were responsible for the violence inflicted on them by masters. No, I am not ignorant enough to think it’s exactly the same, but the logic employed leads to that conclusion. I am at a loss.

Response: So, I will start to respond to this question by saying, survivors never bare responsibility.

I think an article by Dick Bathrick and Gus Kaufman, Jr., Ph.D.  titled “Male Violence and Male Privilege” can help us a bit in this discussion. In it they talk about their research working with cis-male sexual abusers and the impact of male privilege. They say,

To understand how all men “benefit” from battering is to see something of the complicity we all share in the act. While many of us don’t rape or batter women, those of us in relationships with women find that our partners frequently make decisions based on how to avoid subjecting themselves to male violence: decisions like where and when to walk, whom to talk with and what to wear. These decisions are often powerfully influenced by whether or not a man (spouse, lover, friend) is available to accompany a woman on that walk. They have an unspoken agreement that she depends on a man to protect her from being raped or threatened by violent men. So men end up determining if women get to go out and where they go. And we don’t mind having that control. More than once, batterers in our program have noted the irony in their partners’ relying on them for protection from “those violent men out there.” This form of control never gets named. It’s classic male privilege, in all its invisibility, with all its power.

The learning I take from the article is that living in a society which privileges cis-men sets up situations where women and trans people are often not believed and thus at times may feel the desire to have a cis-man to offer protection, physical protection but also as a male witness, since maleness is privileged in our society.  Continue reading

Talking to white friends about everyday racism

Q: What are useful guidelines for talking to white friends about everyday racism, when their first reaction is to shut me down for even suggesting that I and they might have said or done something racist?

A: I am sorry to say that there are no set “guidelines.” The key is to keep standing up. Everyday racism is often seen in microaggressions. Microaggressions are little pervasive things in our society that show that whiteness, christianity, able bodies, etc. are valued more than other identities.

The University of California describes microaggressions as, “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership (from Diversity in the Classroom, UCLA Diversity & Faculty Development, 2014). The first step in addressing microaggressions is to recognize when a microaggression has occurred and what message it may be sending.”

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Can not talking about race can make racism worse?

Q: In discussions on race & current events like Charleston, I keep seeing conservatives accuse the media and people of color of race-baiting. I know that is not what the term originally meant, and that it’s used in this context to shut down discussion and silence talk about racism that doesn’t benefit the racist power structure, but how do I explain that to the average white conservative?

Is there any way to get it through to these people that not talking about race can make racism worse and that treating everything as colorblind can help perpetuate racism?

A: White people insist that there’s no reason to talk about race anymore because we like to believe that racism ended with the Civil Rights Movement. In the minds of many whites (and frankly, this is how our schools teach these issues), America’s race problem concluded with the Civil Rights Movement (integration and voting rights, really). So, when the topic comes up, you get accusations of “race baiting” or making “everything about race” or “playing the race card”.

Of course, this is a terrifically convenient way for white people to let ourselves off the hook (Hey, my dad handled the race problem back in the ‘60s!). It also lets us feel superior, because when we see entrenched issues like poverty and income disparity, modern “ghettos” and mass incarceration, we get to yell “Bootstraps!” and not ask the hard questions about why these issues persist.

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White person on the board?

Q: I’ve been invited to serve on a board for an organization focused on POC. How can I best be helpful on the board without feeling like the white person trying to have greater influence or voice in an initiative that is not about me?

A: That is great that you are doing the work and have been invited to be in a position of leadership. As white people serving in organizations focused on work with and by people of color we need to really take care, especially if you are the only white person in the room, and even more if you benefit from multiple positions of privilege. Obviously, as people who benefit from white supremacy we always need to take care; but, if you are a cis, straight, white, upper-middle class, male for example, you will need to really examine the work you do. This is not to say that you shouldn’t speak up or participate, or challenge people or the organization, just that you will need to examine your motives, and how much your voice is being valued/heard.

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White murderer wasn’t killed, did I say something wrong?

Q: A POC friend posted about a scumbag murdering 9 people, police knowing he murdered 9 people, police apprehend scumbag, and do not feel their lives were threatened so scumbag lives because the scumbag had “the complexion for the protection.” I know police brutality is racially biased, but its too much across the board and in this particular case the police did it right and my POC friend was coming across as resentful that this white man didn’t end up dead like he would have been much more likely to have if he had been white. So I called my POC friend out, saying I don’t see how they would have been satisfied unless this white scumbag had been hurt or killed. My POC friend called my comments foolish and then referred me to this website. What did I do wrong?

A: Seeing another incident where a white person was treated drastically different than a person of color is very painful to watch. Not only did the terrorist live, but he was not handcuffed on his way to the police car, given a bulletproof vest and come to find out later, taken to Burger King for some food. This is just another incident of white supremacy. White supremacy is a system that privileges whiteness over darker skin. Elizabeth Martínez defines it as, “White Supremacy is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege.” The prison industrial complex, including the police, is a system based on white supremacy. Continue reading

How to support your black friends at this moment.

After the terrorist massacre at the AME church in Charleston, SC, many white people are wondering how to support their black friends. The question is “how do you offer support?” One of my black friends summed up what many people are saying and feeling right now, saying the following *:

I know that there are many of you who care deeply for me and who are also white. I know you don’t really know what to say and that you want to say something to let me know you care. I know my sadness, rage and terror frighten you and make you uncomfortable.

Right now, I need to leave you to deal with that without my acknowledgement of how hard all of this is for you. I need to wrap myself up in my own skin and texture, to gather my kin close and then even closer.

I know you’re not used to feeling shut out of my often visible process, but I can’t worry about that or you right now.

Please know that I’ll be as safe as I can be in the embraces of my people, yes even those with whom I fight for parts of my existence.

While I’m doing this healing work, take this opportunity to talk to other white people about why this is hard and what y’all can do to make it safer for me and others that you love. Hold them close and speak truth to them. Say a prayer and then get up and do something more to undo that which benefits you, but is killing me. I know you didn’t ask for it, but here it is and wishing it weren’t so doesn’t make it go away.

I don’t care for you less because I need this time to love me more. It is my hope that we can sit and share something other than trauma and responses to it in the future.

White people, we need to address and dismantle white supremacy, the system that privileges whiteness in all aspects of life! One of the many ways we can do that right now is to talk to our white friends. We need to call this massacre what it is. It is NOT an isolated incident, this is the reality that black people face in the United States and around the world. The violence comes from police, from corporations, from the health care system, from individual white people. The root is a system that privileges white skin in all aspects of our society. Black people encounter violence on the streets, in stores, when driving, when applying for jobs, at the pool, in the church. We need to stand up and say NO. We need to call this terrorism, we need to call out the hate.

Listen to your black friends, hear what they need right now. Give them space. Don’t tell your friends how to mourn. Don’t tell your black friends how to rage. Not all people process things the same way, your friends might feel differently than my friend above does. That is ok. Listen.

*Note: my friend gave me permission to post their words here with or without their name. I chose to not use their name because this sums up what so many folks are saying right now. Posting the words of people of color without their permission is NOT OK! White folks have a long history of stealing the words of people of color. In today’s world it is also not ok to share your friends personal thoughts without permission, especially if it is clear that you, the white person, are the one who ends up benefiting from sharing. Think first!

Do POC have a leg up in the world just for being minorities?

Q: Lately when speaking about race with My white friends I hear again and again how they believe POC have a leg up in the world just for being minorities and how they have more chances in life because of our bleeding heart government who give them all handouts all the time.  I always become really upset and feel like I get derailed in these discussions.  Is there some factual information I can spout back at them instead of getting red in the face and screaming you are so wrong!?

A: Yes, this is a tiring and exhausting issue to discuss. It is difficult to address these issues without screaming or just walking away. This is why the discussion is so important. The more our white friends hear other white people discussing white supremacy the more we can change the discussion. This question of having a “leg up” is an important one to discuss. What we really need to look at here is systemic privileging of white skin and white sounding names, etc. over others.

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