“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
-Fannie Lou Hamer
In the wake of the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I’m feeling pain and the fear that it will happen again.
I also understand that, because I’m white, my pain is so small in comparison to the pain that the Black community feels in response to these shootings.
Personally, I’ve avoided watching the videos of these men being shot. As it is, I feel that I’ve become desensitized to violence, I don’t feel that me watching the videos would do any good. I’ve been thinking a lot about how white people respond to instances of police brutality, from ignoring it, to expressing sorrow and sympathy, to sharing another Facebook post.
Here are my thoughts about what white people should be doing in the wake of police brutality.
When Black people talk about their experiences of oppression, listen to them, but do not push Black people to share things with you. If you feel guilty for things that white people have done, recognize that it’s not a Black person’s “fault” for making you feel guilty, nor is it their responsibility to alleviate your feelings of guilt.
Stop it with #AllLivesMatter already
When you use #AllLivesMatter, you are diminishing the very real reasons that #BlackLivesMatter was started. Black people are being killed by police, and #BlackLivesMatter says “Stop killing us.” #AllLivesMatter says “Well, people of all races…could…potentially…maybe…be killed?”
“Black on Black crime” is not the issue here
If you bring up “Black on Black crime” you are trying to distract from the real issues. “White on White crime” also happens, but somehow isn’t brought up in the same way. Statistics show that most homicide victims are of the same race as the perpetrator, no matter what that race is.
Educate yourself about racism in America
First, it is not anyone in the Black community’s responsibility to educate you, to explain things to you, or to share their experiences with you. That is a huge burden, and you can learn things on your own.
Resources to learn about racism in America
Crossroads Anti-Racism training
You do have a racial bias
This is what white people can do to support #BlackLivesMatter
Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston
Get involved with Campaign Zero.
For white folks like me who say we’re mad
It depends on where you are and your ability to take part, but if you are able, take part in demonstrations to support #BlackLivesMatter and fight police brutality in America.