Fellow White People: 5 Recommendations for Racial Education
After the horrendous killing of George Floyd in my own community in Minneapolis, the anger, anguish, frustration, and desire for change to the unequal racial justice system is palpable.
Among the reactions, never before in my personal and professional circles have I seen so many white people ask the question, “What can I do to help?”
On the Black Lives Matter page, the second section is for “what you as a non-black person can do to support.” The number one item listed is: Educate Yourself.
In my years of doing diversity, equity, and inclusion work, I have seen the vital importance for us white people to educate ourselves in this country’s history of institutional racism and suppression of people of color if we want to truly make a difference. In response to the question, “What can I do to help?”, educating yourself is one of the many things that you can begin right away. My intent here is to share a few resources that I have found helpful in my own personal racial education process.
It is through this process that, as counseling psychologist Janel Helms framed, one can first abandon the idea of individual racism to then recognize, and oppose, institutional and cultural racism. Racism is a system embedded in our laws, voting and representation, economic opportunities, education and justice systems, housing — just about every aspect of our society.
Recognizing and understanding that is critical to better understanding what needs to be done to break it down today.
By understanding our system of racism, as a white man, I better understand my privilege and how I can use that privilege in concrete ways to create a more equitable system. It puts the onus on me to learn versus relying on the exhausting task for people of color having to not only live it, but also teach white people. It leads to better cross-racial discussions and relationships.
Educating yourself can begin immediately and is a lifelong journey. I can tell you that I personally have much, much still to learn —…