Welcome to this week’s edition of our Quality Linkage column. The United States is on fire (literally and metaphorically) and for many of us, there’s a lot of confusion about what’s going on, why civilians are at such odds with law enforcement, and what to do with this information.
I’m going to be blunt here: We white people who lead privileged enough lives not to deal with systemic racism, or even witness it most of the time, have a lot of catching up to do. If we truly believe that the lives of black people — who are so often disadvantaged and disenfranchised at a societal level, and have been so for literally centuries — are equal to our own, then it’s incumbent upon us to put in the effort to both educate ourselves and actively join them in the fight against inequality.
Feeling lost? Don’t know where to begin? Well, here are some great resources to get you started on your journey to becoming a better ally.
📑: Probably the single best place to begin your research is this comprehensive collection of resources created by Twitter user (and 17yo student!) @dehyedration. They’ve curated links to online petitions you can sign, email templates for contacting your representatives, places you can donate to if you’re able, and most importantly, loads of reading material to educate yourself and raise your awareness on these issues.
Take the time to go through all the information you can on this site. It’s so important.
👥: In this day and age, it’s no longer good enough to simply be “not racist.” You must become actively anti-racist.
MLK said it best when he condemned the silence of good people:
First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”
So what does being anti-racist actually look like? Well, this guide hosted on Google Docs — which is being curated by Tiffany Bowden — offers a glimpse of what’s required from all of us if we want to squash racism ideologies from the world.
The page collects a number of articles, books, and videos to help you understand systemic racism, white privilege and fragility (yes, a lot of deep self-examination is required), how to broach these topics with family members who have racist beliefs, and more.
📺: Part of what makes the problem so insidious is that many people have these hard-to-shake biases about one another based on all kinds of things — skin color being a big one — often to the point of dehumanizing anyone who doesn’t look like us. It’s far from unheard of for black people minding their own business to have the police called on them out of some perceived “threat” felt by a nearby white person.
Comedian, actor, and musician Tyler Merritt made a heartfelt video two years ago in an effort to dispel certain notions and show that we’re all human beings with everyday problems, hobbies, fears, wants, dislikes, etc.
🎭: Perhaps this is all beginning to feel a bit overwhelming. Like it’s a lot. It is a lot. This is a vast issue, one that goes deep and wide.
I get it, maybe you’re not ready to do that deep of a dive right from the get-go. Well, British singer Bree Runway tweeted some easy-to-understand diagrams so you can quickly grok what good versus bad allyship looks like.
Useful to reference now and again to double-check yourself and make sure you’re expressing your good intentions in the best ways possible, without drowning in information.
😔️🥊: With that said, we do still have a responsibility to stay in this fight for the long haul, no matter how daunting it seems. It will be exhausting, it will be frustrating, and it will seem impossible at times. It’s only natural to want to throw in the towel.
Black people have been well aware of this since the beginning, and unfortunately, they don’t get to simply put the news away or turn a blind eye. The same should hold true for all of us, and a critical part of that struggle is taking a good hard look at our own privilege.
Book cover designer Anna Dorfman wrote a much needed wake-up call for both herself and any non-black people who may be seeing the depth of this issue for the first time — the police brutality, the systemic injustices in so many facets of society, the failed measures — and choose to express feelings of exhaustion:
That exhaustion is my privilege. I’m a white woman living in a country that was built for the success and safety of white people. So I get to feel exhausted and change the channel or close my laptop and get on with my day.
It doesn’t begin and end with police brutality. It extends to every aspect of Blackness in America, from the school-to-prison pipeline to healthcare to Jim Crow to redlining to voting access to hairstyles to advertising to literature to education to entertainment to housing to just walking down the f****** street and existing. And I have the gall to say I’m exhausted? I need to shut up.
When you don’t think something is real, when you don’t think something is a problem because that ‘something’ doesn’t affect you personally, that’s privilege.
Now, I’m not scared of a cop, not scared of police, I’ve never been scared when a police officer pulls me over in my car, I’ve never feared for my life, I’m not concerned that I might not get a bank loan or lease an apartment, or get the full attention of a doctor in a hospital because of the color of my skin. These things just don’t occur to me, and that is privilege,
Knowing what to do with that privilege is really hard. But you can use that privilege to hold other people accountable when you see racism taking place. That’s where it matters, behind closed doors when no one is looking, that’s where progress can begin.
📺: In the video below, Marques Brownlee (aka “MKBHD”) talks about his experiences being the only black person in the room, which is something that has often come up for him, as he’s an avid tech YouTuber, golfer, and Ultimate Frisbee player — none of which are especially diverse fields.
🧒👧👦: It’s easy to forget sometimes how much attention kids are paying to what’s going on in the world. While they may not fully understand all of it, you can bet they’re listening, whether it’s to you or outside influences.
Racism is never a comfortable thing to bring up with young ones, but we have to do it if we want them to reach adulthood with the kind of empathy and understanding needed to combat racial biases and injustices. This webpage collects a number of resources on how to talk to kids about race, including podcasts, articles, and books.
A similar collection has likewise been compiled by the Center for Racial Justice in Education.
😢: On that topic: Generally speaking, white people have been fortunate enough not to have the kinds of rough discussions about law enforcement that black families do all the time. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but make yourself do it so you can truly understand how deep the problem goes.
📺: This video is a fantastic explanation of what structural racism is, how it came to be in Kansas City, and why 90% of americans can say they are not racist and yet we can still have such prevalent racism taking place:
The video talks about how we can end up with “racism without racists” and it gives a look at how systemic and structural racism has happened over the past 70 years, specifically in Kansas City. Extremely helpful and informative. Set aside 13 minutes and watch it.
🗓: And finally, here’s another Google Doc that acts as a sort of guided syllabus for reading and watching specific materials over the course of a month, with sections that allow you to choose between spending 10 minutes/day, 25 minutes/day, or 40 minutes/day.
If you’re the type who likes to break big subjects/tasks down into smaller chunks, this should be right up your alley.