Standing in Solidarity, Awakening, Time for Responsibility

Over the last two weeks, the world has watched people take to the streets across the United States with outrage caused by the killing of a black man, George Floyd by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. This story has been on replay for decades, with more than 1,000 people killed by police annually since 2015, according to Mapping Police Violence, spotlighting the failure of our criminal justice system. It exposes the centuries-old structural racism and white supremacy that created a capitalism that works for the White Europeans that set foot on this continent.

White Americans have been trained to see racism as black people’s problem. Now, we are only beginning to recognize that racism is toxic to our lives. There are missing parts of our humanity that keep us from being able to connect deeply with people of color beyond the comforts of the workplace where invariably we hold positions of power and authority or through the lens of sports and entertainment.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

—James Baldwin

As President Obama has shared, we can make this a turning point for real change.  

 

HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS A TURNING POINT FOR REAL CHANGE?

 

Get Educated: on racism, white supremacy and police violence in America.

  • 11 Terms You Should Know Better to Understand Structural Racism
  • Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture, perfectionism, sense of urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word, paternalism, either/or thinking, power hoarding, fear of conflict, individualism, progress is bigger, objectivity, right to comfort.. are all norms of white dominant organizational cultures.
  • White Fragility by Dr. Robin DiAngelo unpacks and discusses the dynamics of white privilege and white fragility and why it’s hard for white people to talk about race.
  • How to Be An Anti-Racist’ by leading anti-racist scholar Ibram X Kendi points us toward liberating ways to thinking about ourselves and each other. Start a discussion using the author’s discussion guide.
  • Resources compiled for white people by Wisconsin Voices, a pro-democracy network that partners with organizations that lead campaigns to invest in anti-racist infrastructure, systems and policies that uplift and affirm BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) lives.

 

Take Action & Get Engaged: Support organizations, movements and elected officials for policy reform.

 

Invest in Racial Equity:Either by supporting Black-owned small businesses or donating to organizations working to challenge racism.

Mural on plywood window covering after looting along State Street in Madison, Wisconsin. Part of the Art for Justice project following the killing of George Floyd. Click here to view a picture slideshow of all of the murals on State Street. Credit: Mary Stelletello

In 1984 when I was a college student at U.C. Berkeley, I stood in solidarity with faculty and staff who protested the investment of their pension funds in the Apartheid regime of South Africa. The faculty and staff won that fight.  Ten years later, South Africa abolished Apartheid and established a new system of government.

In 2004, I had the privilege to visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison for his fight against injustice. I bought his book, Long Walk to Freedom at the bookstore on that trip.  He wrote:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can learn to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. A change in our laws and policies has to come hand in hand with a change in our hearts.”

We are waking up to this reality in a new way… we must keep going because as white people, this is our fight for a change in our hearts and humanity. Black Lives Matter.