I have been thinking for weeks about how I, as a white person, can help move the needle forward on equality in society.
I am still listening, but I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned so far.
First, continue to listen and continue to learn. Read some books. Here are a few that I have seen recommended many times:
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
I am sure there are many others.
The second thing that we need to do is confront the racist people in our lives. I think we could place these people in one of two categories:
- People we know, who are either unaware of their racism or are hateful bigots.
- People we do not know who are in political or financial positions of power.
When it comes to people we know, it’s time to tell them they are racist. Don’t sugarcoat it. Don’t call them “micro aggressive.” Say what it is. Give their racism a name, whether they intend it or not. If they are hurt, remember their words hurt more than their feelings at that moment.
If you are uncomfortable with this, you’re going to have to suck it up. Change does not happen without discomfort.
When it comes to people in political or financial positions of power, you must vote with your dollar. If you can, vote them out of power. (If you are an American, that carrot you call a president is not a stupid idiot doing a bad job. He’s a cunning fascist who is hellbent on destroying your country and taking away your freedom. Vote accordingly.)
If the racist person is in a financial position of power, don’t spend money on their products. I know there are absolutely times when you have no choice. If I found that out that the CEO of Dole was a mega-racist, I would have to stop buying fruit from all the supermarkets in my neighbourhood. But I need fruit. I understand this has limits. But be aware that every time you spend money, you are implicitly supporting the people at the top of that organization.
If it is possible, spend more money on businesses owned by minorities. If you are in Toronto, I can make this easy for you: here is a list of 135 Black-owned businesses in the city you can support right now. And here’s another 100.
We need to move the needle forward on this. Until we live in a society that truly offers equality for all of us, there isn’t equality for any of us.