Rarely is the present so identifiably historic as the moment we are living in. The New Civil Rights Movement, as it has been dubbed, is shining a national spotlight on long-standing racial inequities that sit at the very center of everyday American life and culture. For many would-be white allies — those who possess a real and authentic desire to be anti-racist partners to people of color (POC) — there may be questions about how, precisely, to best engage in the fight against white supremacy. Most of these folks have already begun thinking critically about race and privilege, and want to do the heavy lifting and difficult learning necessary to act as real allies to POC. But they may not be fully certain about practical ways to begin.
What can white people who really want to confront and eradicate white supremacy do — on their own, every day — to fight racism? What steps can they take to push back on a system of racial inequality so deeply embedded in our culture that it takes a pile of black bodies and video footage of the murders to force a national conversation about race? Because it can feel overwhelming.
I reached out to a diverse cross-section of POC — smart, thoughtful, incisive public figures who often speak and write smartly, thoughtfully and incisively on race — to gather their thoughts. This is the resulting roundup of their suggestions. Consider it a sort of open letter to white allies who want to do the hard work of truly working to fight racism.
Addressing racism and racial inequality as a white ally is, necessarily, difficult and uncomfortable work. It means putting aside personal defenses to recognize the ways we all, consciously and unconsciously, support white supremacy. It means genuinely challenging yourself to acknowledge privilege and how you personally benefit from it. It means taking your own biases and calling yourself out on them, even though that doesn’t feel good. It means recognizing that we cannot and will not dismantle a system it took hundreds of years to build in a day. But here, at the very least, is a place to start.