I have written and rewritten this post so many times in the last few days, I’ve just come to accept that nothing I write will ever encompass the issue fully and be completely unproblematic. I also didn’t want it to be an essay on my ~feelings~, which aren’t what’s important right now. No one needs another post from a white person with a platform unloading their emotions about an issue that is actively killing other people or just using it to promote their “woke personal brand”. Writing about race is hard but living with racism every day is harder.
We all want to believe we’re “good people”, but the fact is all white people benefit from institutionalized racism to a degree. You can still be kind and friendly and patient and be loved and still benefit from it. You can face hardship and other kinds of oppression and suffer in your life and still benefit from it. I’m sorry.
It’s time we changed the system itself. From legislation to dinner table conversation. It’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to mean examining how we are all complicit in this. But if you’re reluctant to take action because of personal discomfort imagine how uncomfortable it is to live with racism every day, to fear for your child’s life.
So how do we help? How do we move our culture away from hatred and us vs them mentalities? How do we uproot racism in our own souls in all it’s variations? How do we change the system that excuses violence towards people of color and criminalizes them?
Educate yourself. This doesn’t mean go ask a person of color you know to explain it to you, please don’t do that (it’s not their burden to educate you on this, it’s the least you can do). It’s hard to argue a topic or dismantle a system (or know why we need to) if you don’t understand it. Know where it began and how institutional racism impacts legislation made in Canada and the USA and everywhere else. Here’s a good start on the system end of things.
Start at home. When you hear someone around you say something racist or commit a microaggression– say something. Even if it just results in the individual refraining from those topics in your company- it counts. Obviously consider your physical safety, confronting a stranger on the street alone is different than calling out your ignorant relative who claims “racism is over”. Here’s a brief how-to from Amnesty International.
*As tempting as it is to just unfriend/block every individual you know with problematic viewpoints it doesn’t change anything to do so, it creates an echo chamber around those people where they are only hearing voices that reaffirm their hatred. Engage in respectful and thoughtful discourse whenever possible.
Diversify Your Content. Seek out creators of color to fill your instagram/etc feeds! There are so many incredible people of color making amazing work and providing resources on educating yourself on these issues. The more we see and uplift black creators (and creators of all variations) the more our world will embrace and welcome them (rather than just pillage their efforts with 0 credit or flat out dehumanize them).
Don’t be afraid to be wrong. As allies we are going to fuck up. It’s part of the process. Learn to take criticism and grow from it on these issues, rather than getting defensive and hurt. It’s better to be an imperfect ally than to strive for perfection and stay silent. This podcast episode (part 1 of 2 linked here) is a great start for white folks looking for a discussion on how we can do better (the hosts are also both fat liberation activists).
Support businesses on the right side of history. Black owned businesses need our support right now! As well as companies actively striving to better the lives of people of color or be as inclusive as possible (I pledge to feature more models of color in our shoots also). Info on direct donations to the cause can be found in the master doc at the bottom of this post.
Contribute to change. It can feel futile facing an issue as widespread as racism but we all have ways we can contribute to it’s end, you don’t need a huge online platform or millions of dollars to donate (hey, where you at billionaires?). Make art on the topic, donate when you can, attend protests (guide on doing so safely), call it out when you hear/see it, use your money to support businesses and organizations doing good in the world, vote for change and call your local reps.
Stay safe and be kind! We can create the better world we all deserve.