There is not a thought or sentiment that comes to mind that you have not already heard personally or through media regarding the Charlottesville, Va., attacks. The varied, convoluted, nonsensical, pressured, and bigoted responses from #45 only served to further separate rather than unify the country.
On many occasions and presently I have been asked by white people, “What can I do to help?”
Thus, the primary reason for this communication. As a Southern-born individual, I am acutely aware that all do not agree with the state of race relations in this country and there is an even greater divide as to what should be done to improve them. For those of you who are genuinely interested or may change your mind here are a few thoughts for your consideration.
What Can I Do?
At its core, racism is a political, economic, and social system of supremacy imposed by a group in which the dominant race is privileged whether they choose to be or not from the oppression of others (United States capitalistic caste system). It is self-perpetuating and encompasses inequity in opportunity throughout the system (wealth building, education, housing, health care, etc.).
Determine/examine where you stand with this long-standing definition of racism.
Honor the feelings of people of color in discussions. It is not about white guilt.
Earnestly try to understand before having your viewpoint understood. Listen when people of color talk about their experiences of everyday racism. You can avoid comparing others oppression with racism in the United States unless it’s directly related to the conversation.
• Embrace diversity by moving out of your comfort zone. Attend community events that are ethnically focused. Befriend someone of a different race, religion or age; become a member of a human rights group whose message resonates most with you. Consider the NAACP.
• Talk with activists and advocates to broaden and share understanding of equality/equity and justice.
• Challenge other white people in your life to think critically about racism – family, friends, coworkers, teachers, and even public officials. Hold Superintendents, principals, and teachers accountable for their responsibility in closing the achievement gap.
• Consider what stops you from speaking up. Might it be the risk of losing privileges?
• Direct peers towards the perspectives of people of color. Becoming a “savior” is not cool.
• Be mindful of the commonalities that humans share.
• Vote for candidates who make ending racism a priority.
• What we value is taught first in the home. Teach our future leaders in words and deeds how we would want to be treated.
Suggestions for Instant Impact
Tutor a child of color privately; tutor a child of color in our schools; become a mentor to a child of color (especially a male); sponsor a child of color on a school field trip; take a child of color to a restaurant for dinner; take a child of color to the movies; take a child of color to the museum or aquarium.
Tour Northwestern University with a child of color; become a parent of color advocate at school conferences; sponsor a child to an event such as a banquet; adopt a family for the holiday; get to know families of color in your child’s school; contribute to the Unity scholarship program.
Buy a bus pass or suggest it to your local PTA; encourage PTAs to aggressively solicit parents of color (no PTA should be functioning without them). Assist older students with preparing for work; business owners can purchase iPads for students with training and care as a part of the package; become a court-appointed special advocate.
By no means are the above meant to solve the problem of racism. The caste system was not built in a day. It is my hope that the reader will begin to contemplate additional avenues where they are able and willing to contribute positively as an individual who has a responsibility in eradicating the wrongs of our society.
Michael Nabors is President, and Willie Shaw is Political Action Chairperson of Evanston North Shore Branch NAACP