One of the challenges the world faces as a whole is racism. No matter how we look at it from our bias spectacles, the fact of the matter is that racism existed and still exists today.
Notwithstanding on the effort of racism deniers who have tried to tell us that racism does not exist, we still see it manifesting, especially in Europe and North America. For example, a video emerged recently in which white soccer fans in Paris prevented a black man from boarding a train. The white guys who did this said, “We’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.”
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) February 18, 2015
There is no way we should keep silent about this topic. It is said that denying the shameful facts of discrimination, past or present, make it easier for it to happen again and again. The Deputy Opinion Editor of the Daily Dot, Derrick Clifton, has suggested nine simple things white people can do to help fight against racism.
Chelsea fans. Save your spite for those on the train, I’m sure you’ll want to see them banned from holding season tickets at your club. — Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) February 18, 2015
1) Follow what people of color are saying and the articles they’re sharing on Twitter
Clifton suggests that white people should follow what people of color are saying and the articles they are sharing on Twitter whenever there is an allegation of racism. Issues such as a police brutality protest, a racially motivated shooting, or the latest epic racial fail from the entertainment industry are all contemporary conversations people of color discuss on Twitter. Many of these issues will not show up in mainstream media articles and white people can take the opportunity on Twitter to learn a great deal from these issues.
White supremacy isn’t theory, it’s evident. To overcome it, we need the youth to understand unfiltered white/black history. #chelsearacists
— . (@lex_looper) February 18, 2015
2) If you’re confused by what certain terms mean, try Googling before tapping someone for info
Clifton says if white people are confused about the meaning of certain terms regarding racism, they should first Google it before asking someone. For example, words such as “microaggressions” or “intersectionality” mean immediately. Some concepts are still largely academic and haven’t reached high levels of mainstream recognition. As with any other word or idea that may be new to an individual, Clifton suggests white people should research what it means and its context in a conversation about racism. He argues that by Googling articles, blog posts, videos and other materials, it can quickly help to understand these terms better.
3) Spend time elevating the experiences of people of color on a trending hashtag or topic about racism
White people can also spend time elevating the experiences of people of color on a trending hashtag. Clifton admits that while it is easy for us to be biased in the discussion of important issues, nevertheless, white people can listen and help elevate these issues when people of color are openly airing their grievances or offering their analysis of an event with racial implications. This is important because they have direct experience from the issue. He cites an example wherein after a Staten Island grand jury voted not to indict the white officer who killed Eric Garner, the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite emerged as a well-intentioned response from white people who understood that they’re treated differently by law enforcement. As that happened, black people and other people of color also shared their pain. Eventually, #AliveWhileBlack was created to redirect the conversation back to the experiences of black people who had been racially profiled or endured mistreatment at the hands of police.
4) Recognize when it may not be best to insert yourself into a tense online dialogue primarily involving people of color. Sometimes, it’s better to just listen and ask questions.
White people identifying when it may not be best to insert themselves into a tense online dialogue primarily involving people of color. Clifton states that it is better to just listen and ask questions in such occasions. He gives an example such as the use of the “N-word” which is more about community dynamics that don’t need any outside input. He further cites an example in 2014 when Piers Morgan decided to devote an entire op-ed to the topic. As a white man, Morgan felt he could tell black people how to feel about a word that he’ll never be subjected to, either in the form of a slur, a pejorative, or a reappropriated term of endearment. And he didn’t back down from lecturing black people on Twitter when called on it. Therefore, during a moment like this, when it is clear that the affected community has an issue to sort out on their own terms, taking a back seat to the discussion is a much more respectful approach.
5) Be OK with making mistakes sometimes. But be open, honest, and accountable about those mishaps—it’s part of the learning process.
Clifton urges white people to admit making mistakes sometimes and be open, honest and accountable about those mishaps as it is part of the learning process. He argues that we all sometimes exercise poor judgment or mess up without knowing any better. But when that involves an issue as complicated and tense as racism, the best response to these errors is to be polite and admit the mistake committed, apologizing and committing to listening and educating ourselves. This builds a healthy relationship with people of color.
6) Avoid using the Dr. King and Obama defenses at all costs when encountering a challenging viewpoint about racism
He urges white people to avoid using the Dr. King and Obama defenses at all costs when encountering a challenging viewpoint about racism. White people are quick to make statements such as:
“You’re judging me because of my white skin and not the content of my character. Dr. King would be ashamed of you.”
“We have an African-American man who’s the president of the United States. What could black people still possibly be complaining about?”
But according to Clifton, many black people online have heard variations of either sentiment when they share a viewpoint or an article that advances a strong challenge on an issue of how racism affects everyday life, especially on matters of culture and politics. And because someone said the words “white privilege,” “cultural appropriation,” or offered any number of critiques that call out the subjugation of blacks and other people of color, it doesn’t mean that the person harbors any distinct prejudice against white people. He advocates that white people should take a moment to actually think about what’s being said and try to understand the pain being expressed by someone whose experiences may vastly differ. Having a black president clearly hasn’t eradicated racism or ushered in a so-called post-racial era, and although Dr. King’s words exist in their own time and context, he wasn’t particularly shy about calling out racism and white supremacy for the ills these systems created.
7) That also goes for any claim that “reverse racism” exists
White people should try as much as possible to avoid the “reverse racism” question. Clifton says anyone can harbor prejudice but racism is not simply about one person’s attitude toward an entire group of people. Racism is about systems in politics, the economy, media, society and other vital areas of life where one group wields enormous power and privilege over other racial groups, who end up marginalized in the process. So when a person of color discusses an instance of racism, questions such as, “How would you react if this were a white person instead?” are often misplaced.
— Numero Uno (@mikeychristou) February 18, 2015
8) Use online resources to read texts crucial to understanding issues of race and racism
Also, white people should endeavor to use online resources to read texts crucial to understanding issues of race and racism. Clifton preaches that many books and essays are available online for further reading. Either in college or having a library membership with access to online journals and eBooks, white people can take full advantage of the ability to educate themselves with an interesting book that explores issues of racism.
9) Share what you’re learning with others via your social networks
Lastly, white people should try and share what they have learned with others via your social networks. Clifton urges white people to share interesting article along with quotes they find most resonant or compelling on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. He finally urges everybody not to be afraid talking about racism as it is the only way we can collectively defeat that “evil” as a society.
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