I hope it goes without saying, but when you spend 33+ years being white, in white culture, spending only a couple of years learning about race is a drop in the bucket. But after having a few different conversations over the past few weeks, my journey so far has been swirling around in my head and I wanted to write it down. So, if you too are looking for a quick and easy personal transformation on race in America, you’re in luck! Just follow these simple steps!
- Listen to a Christena Cleveland sermon. (Bonus: become convinced women can preach.)
- Have a desire for justice.
- Volunteer in the inner-city, like a good white person.
- Meet inner-city black people.
- Realize they have a very different life experience than you.
- Join Twitter. (Be unaware that this will up-end your life. Forevermore judge people who disdain social media.)
- Go to FFW. Meet Suzannah. Be introduced to more radical concepts of power, liberation, and justice.
- Remember Christena when her blog starts getting shared.
- Read her blog.
- Later on, read her book.
- Lurk on Twitter.
- Read Austin’s blog when it starts.
- Ask, ‘what if she’s right?’
- Ask, ‘why do I care?’
- Study your story.
- Realize white flight is integral to who you are.
- Discover white guilt.
- Start learning about concepts like privilege and intersectionality.
- Read The Wisdom of Stability and realize you are in a white, middle-class community.
- Begin asking yourself if that’s the community you want to be in.
- Read A’driene’s post.
- Ask, ‘what if she’s right?’
- Read more black bloggers.
- Ask, ‘what if they’re right?’
- Learn about the idea of solidarity.
- Move. Embed yourself in a community where you can practice solidarity.
- Feel guilty that it took moving to feel so emotionally invested.
- Read books.
- Investigate the racial history of your area.
- Find places to put yourself and your children under black authority figures.
- Read The New Jim Crow
- Watch your white guilty mostly disappear in lieu of, ‘this is how the world works, how can we fix it?’
- Place yourself in situations where you are a minority, and uncomfortable.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Seek more discomfort.
- Notice whiteness.
- Listen to hip-hop radio.
- Name whiteness whenever you can.
- Name your whiteness.
- Examine the public and private school demographics.
- Name your privilege.
- Learn about respectability politics.
- Realize those are the same racist arguments you grew up with.
- Be a witness.
- Realize how dominant white culture lies.
- Read James Baldwin.
- Be stunned with how relevant he still is.
- Read Howard Zinn.
- Get involved in local government.
- Remember your church issues.
- Realize that now the concept of power dynamics makes sense.
- Follow more people on Twitter.
- Be a witness to systemic execution.
- Listen to black people.
- Sit with their pain.
- Look at the pattern of racial violence.
- Find friendly agitators and sympathetic people.
- Notice how many more police cars are on the black side of town.
- Listen to people say you buy your groceries at the ghetto store.
- Stay silent.
- Watch America: The Story of Us and realize it’s really the story of the white, middle class.
- Become aware of coded language.
- Listen to the disparaging comments people make about certain neighborhoods.
- Speak up.
- Listen to more black people.
- Amplify black voices.
- Learn more about the Civil Rights Movement.
- Watch Selma.
- Realize how amazing black culture is.
- Be sad at how much you’ve missed out on.
- Be angry at white Christians who failed you.
- Listen to black music on Spotify.
- Check out so many cool diverse kids’ books from the library.
- Watch other documentaries, with your kids.
- Learn when to listen and when to speak.
- Read more books.
- Hang out on Twitter.
So this post is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I always find it fun to trace timelines and see how change happens. I’m a big, big advocate of reading books and blogs to start walking this journey of understanding systemic racism, but as I write it all out, I realize that’s not entirely what I’ve done.
And as I was making this list, which is pretty accurate in order, from the spring of 2011 to now, I could see the main topics that have probably been the most important in my own personal change, and these can probably be learned in other ways than just by reading books/blogs. (I would also stress that it’s way less awkward if you take time to do a lot of this work in private. I have now been a witness to where people have talked in public about this, obviously without having done much, if any, work, and…..well, it’s just awkward as hell all around, and pretty painful for people of color.)
1 – asking, ‘what if they’re right’.
2 – learning about whiteness, and the neutrality that we assume it has.
3 – learning about the concept of solidarity
4 – learning about power dynamics
5 – learning accurate history and the idea of systemic injustice.
And I assume by now, everyone knows that they should be following Christena, Austin, and Drew, but if not, they’re the ones who are most responsible for radically changing me, so, absolutely sit at their feet with me.
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