For White People That Want To Help…

I believe any so-called white ally has to be put through the racial ringer. They have to go through the gauntlet to earn their stripes. I refuse to bestow any serious trust in a white person claiming to do racial equity work, if they are unwilling to confront the most horrific aspects of white supremacy. I believe white people have to be exposed to the most brutal segments of their history to even begin to remotely understand the circumstances and burdens their comrades of color carry with them. White people wanting to be committed to the cause must be ready to push their white fragility to the breaking point. In essence they must tear down all of their preconceived notions of whiteness, meritocracy, Eurocentric history, and their relationship to these social systems designed in their favor.

This will create a cognitive dissonance potentially unbearable for many white people. But this is where I believe the magic is. Anything worth having requires much effort and discomfort during the process of attainment. However, I feel as if they have to be this extreme in their efforts if they are genuine in their desire to actually be an ally.

White people have to learn about the most cruel aspects of chattel slavery of African peoples. They must know about the sadistic slave drivers; the inhumane slave trade; the heartbreak of Black families being ripped apart during slave auctions. They have to be shown the photos of lynchings. They have to see the white families in their Sunday’s best posing for pictures next to the lifeless charred Black bodies. White people must learn about the savage violence that was committed against Indigenous peoples of this land. They have to hear about the treachery of the broken treaties to Native peoples. They must learn about the brutal war crimes inflicted upon Filipinos during the Philippine American war. Everywhere the bloody fingerprint of white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism can be found, white people must explore. From Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas–white people must be thoroughly exposed to horrors of their collective past all the way up to the present.

This is not to bludgeon them with guilt. It’s not to rub their nose in a history that they had no individual say in. Rather, it is merely to set the stage for the much needed contrast. If white people can learn about the most monstrous parts of their collective history, then they will know exactly what direction to steer their collective future towards. After you fully understand the bad then you know exactly how much good you have to do.

However, I don’t foresee all white people taking up this challenge. I think this is asking far too much for many of them. But I do believe there are some brave enough to face this. And that’s who I’m counting on.

One thought on “For White People That Want To Help…

  1. John, I really appreciate this message, and as a white woman, I’d like to add that it’s also very important for white people to look deeply into our own personal histories, and examine how our whiteness has contributed to our experiences and achievements. We need to recognize and acknowledge that we have been given advantages by our society that we weren’t even aware of. These have acted as a tailwind, augmenting our own talents and hard work in whatever we’ve accomplished in our lives. Without the humility this recognition brings, we can’t truly be effective allies in this work. I think, for me, it will be a lifelong struggle.

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