Last weekend, I watched the events in Charlottesville and like so many people asked myself how we allowed our country to get to this point. The fact is it didn't start and it won't end with the Trump Administration. In situations of such overt hate like the events in Charlottesville, it is easy to get outraged, overwhelmed and not know what you can do to help. Too often, not knowing what to do in situations of hate leads us to not do anything. Here are actions that everyone can take against white supremacy in our communities and additional actions that should be taken by those benefiting from white privilege.
A group of counter-protesters rally against members of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017. REUTERS / Joshua Roberts
We all need to be effectively prepared, vigilant, and responsive. Never let white racial violence slide anywhere or anytime. Don’t lose sight of those harmed by that violence and how important it is to stand with them. Whether it’s obvious hate speech, a microaggression, or a physical threat of violence — we all must react. Silence against violence lets it grow.
1. Be prepared individually to act against hate and counter racial violence in the moment. Report and document hate crimes. Record racially violent interactions, especially those with law enforcement. Spread the word out when those with power abuse it.
This Report Form helps you report incidents of hate to the FBI. You can also report to social media, news, and radio outlets.
2. Attend protests against hate and support efforts of unity and equality in your community. Use RallyList.com to help you find protests and rallies in your area.
Coming up in the Los Angeles area:
Saturday, August 26, 1pm-5pm at Los Angeles City Hall: Nevertheless, we persist rally and activist festival. March on National Equity Day in support of “all women, nonbinary individuals, immigrants, refugees, POC, and every minority who is persisting through this tough political climate.”
Saturday, September 23, 9am-12pm at Pershing Square: Better together march and rally. A March for unity and equality to bring people together and be united against hate.
3. Fight policies that other marginalized people and communities. Stay alert to racist legislation and government-sanctioned practices such as stop-and-frisk, surveillance measures designed to target activists and communities as suspect, use of paramilitary force on water protectors, militarizing police departments in response to protests and other policies designed to target specific groups of people. Staying involved in local policies is an important way to fight to make your community inclusive of all people. Attend town halls, school meetings, and other forums and ask public officials to fight for equality in your community and ask them what they are doing to help minorities.
4. Get involved with organizations doing anti-racist work. Many organizations are doing anti-racist work. Everyone can also support organizations fighting for racial justice by becoming a regular donor -- donating $5 each month to an organization that’s working for change can make an impact. Or if you can’t give money to these organizations, volunteering to help their cause can make a big difference.
5. Unlearn white supremacy indoctrination and learn to spot subtle white supremacy. Being able to identify white supremacy culture, and how different aspects of white supremacy culture function is the only way to begin to dismantle it in communities. Learn about these characteristics and more importantly, learn small antidotes you can use to combat these in your community.
While we should all take the actions above, there are actions that white people should be taking. While not all white people actively contribute to or believe in white supremacy, they all benefit from it. White people who feel guilty about their privilege should contribute in a productive way instead of just ignoring it. The only way to use white privilege for good is to acknowledge it and use it to bring down white supremacy because acting like it's not there doesn't take away from the benefits white people receive from it. People with privilege have the ability to ignore many of the issues people of color face and are fighting for because they simply don't affect them. When you don't feel targeted it's easy to act like it's someone else's issue but white supremacy affects all of us, and by making it someone else's issue the hate just spreads. That's why the only way to end white supremacy is for white people to contribute and ensure that their white privilege is being used for good.
These are some important actions for white people to take to be able to use white privilege for good. Deepen your awareness of racial violence/trauma and your commitment to effective anti-racism efforts while working with people of color. During racially divided times people in positions of privilege must use it to help people that aren't. Being silent in the face of injustice is being complicit and contributing to the spread of hate.
1. Catch up on the anti-racism movement. Read this link and others to learn about how white people can join people of color in battling racism without co-opting a movement that people of color have already started and been struggling with.
2. Gather your friends and family and be accountable to each other. Educate yourself and others on the history and prevalence of white supremacy and how to create an anti-racist movement. Learn about the history of white supremacy and how it operates under our current society and the Trump Administration. Combine this knowledge with tools on how to create a movement against white supremacy in your community and how to stand in solidarity with people of color.
3. Be okay with having uncomfortable conversations! It is your job to use your place of privilege and access to talk to other people you know and call them out and educate them on how they may be contributing to white supremacy. Four out of five young white people say they feel uncomfortable discussing race issues, and less than one in three white people say they’ve talked about race within their family. It can be uncomfortable at times, but it can often be more comfortable for white people to initiate conversations about race with other white people than it is for people of color. Educating your family and community is one of the most powerful ways white privilege can be used for good.
4. Amplify the voices of people of color on social media. Retweeting, reblogging, or quoting from the stories of people of color can help magnify those particular lived experiences- and prevents white people from making the issue about themselves. Making an issue of race about yourself or your brand diminishes the impact that people of color face everyday. When you post on social media it should be to strengthen the voices of those that feel discrimination first hand, not add your voice. People of color are often not given the platforms that white people are to talk about issues and are overlooked by media and news outlets far too often. It is important that if you are in a place of privilege to use that to give a voice to people that often are not given one.
5. Intervene and de-escalate situations of harassment against minorities. Being a bystander is always the simplest thing to do, and being from a place of privilege where violence from hate groups and law enforcement do not affect you, it's easy to not act in situations of injustice. It's important to learn how to intervene and instances when your privilege can help others in defenseless situations.
Nikki Bayat is a 17 year old junior at Oakwood Secondary School. Nikki is a trained Peer Educator of The Talk Project and an Advocacy Intern at NCJW/LA.
9 Ways You Can Use Your White Privilege For Good
Kristina Marusic - http://www.mtv.com/news/2187137/white-people-documentary-privilege-for-good/
Threads of Solidarity: WOC Against Racism - https://medium.com/@SolidarityWOC/action-call-11-dismantling-white-supremacy-on-the-front-lines-and-loving-ourselvs-in-the-trenches-32c333f520e9