Dear white friends

As the events of last week unfolded, I felt the slow gurgle of rage morph into a boil within me. As a white educator, I have been fortunate enough to engage in an online anti-racist staff book/movie club since the quarantine began and felt I needed to speak out and share resources with my white friends. My hope was to help my white friends identify their views by relating to my experience and then be prompted to examine their implicit biases as well as start educating themselves. I was nervous to post because of my white fragility and because I have been gaslit by family members in the past by posting about topics way less controversial but enough is enough, it’s not about me. Below is what I shared. Please feel free to comment and share other resources you find helpful!

Dear white friends,

Full disclosure- I once thought of myself as someone who was a nice, white girl who was not racist. I remember in my ONE “diversity” course in grad school, I actually said the words, “I don’t see color.” I thought because I love working with “diverse” students in “diverse” schools and because I enjoy hip-hop music that I wasn’t racist. Surprise surprise, we white people all hold racist ideologies and biases. Our overwhelmingly white patriarchal leaders and lawmakers want us to think we don’t (or perhaps not?) so they can continue to enforce systemic oppression and injustice right under our noses. It’s a gut punch to think about the many years of my life I ignorantly benefitted (and continue to benefit) from white privilege and supremacy. It’s also a gut punch to think about how I thought I was “helping” in some way because I am a white liberal. Actually, the white liberal who doesn’t do “the work” and cries their white woman tears is doing the most harm. So I am working on being anti-racist, which essentially is a commitment to being a moral human, to being an ally, to being someone who speaks up and takes action. Someone who works to unlearn and dismantle the oppressive, racist, patriarchal systems etched into us since birth. @andrearanaej defines it best, “anti-racism is not an identity or a checklist; it’s an ongoing decision to uproot the ways white supremacy resides within you, your relationships and the systems you navigate each day.”

I wanted to share some resources that I, as a “nice, white girl” who thought she knew it all, humbled the crap out of me and taught me so much and have made me angry and uncomfortable in this world we occupy. I am especially thankful to work at a school that holds space to have these tough conversations and I am thankful for my friends who are committed to anti-racist work so I continue to learn from, and unlearn with, them. We need to be doing this work so our friends/sons/daughters/family don’t turn into the white people we so easily judge and chastise on the news. We need to be doing this work so we can educate ourselves, be angry and uncomfortable, and act to make a better future for all. And no, I’m not claiming to be an expert of any sort, I am sharing some resources as a place to start if you are feeling overwhelmed but also are considering taking action.

Love,

me

Books I read and loved (pictured):

  • *Stamped, YA edition by Kendi and Reynolds
  • *How to Be an Antiracist by Kendi
  • *White Fragility by DiAngelo
  • *Just Mercy by Stevenson
  • *Between the World and Me by Coates
  • *Good Talk by Jacob
  • *Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Higginbotham

A few films I have watched, and a podcast I listen to and recommend (pictured):

  • *13th by DuVernay on Netflix
  • *I Am Not Your Negro on Netflix/Prime
  • *The Problem with Apu on Prime
  • *Code Switch podcast

What I plan to read (and discuss) in the future:

  • *Me and White Supremacy by Saad
  • *Chokehold by Butler
  • *Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People about Race by Eddo-Lodge
  • *The Fire Next Time by Baldwin*The Fire This Time by Ward
  • *I’m Still Here by Brown
  • *Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Tatum
  • *So You Want to Talk About Race by Oluo
  • *When They Call You a Terrorist by Khan-Cullors & Bandele
  • *The New Jim Crow by Alexander

Who I plan to learn from:

  • *@theconsciouskid will always teach me and is incredible, especially for white parents
  • *@rachel.cargle’s @thegreatunlearn monthly self-paced course
  • *@austinchanning The Anti-Racist Pod Squad podcast
  • *@sheldoneakins Leading Equity podcast
  • *@imkc_podcast Intersectionality Matters with Kimberle Crenshaw
  • *Whoever you suggest!

4 thoughts on “Dear white friends

  1. Your thinking is similar to my own. If I am totally honest, I see my students as students, not colors or ethnic groups’ yet, if we are going to move forward in our society, we have to be proactive and work to end the lingering racism that is prevalent in our society. I will never know how it feels to be black, but I can work to make sure others confront their beliefs and embrace the diversity that is America.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. I cannot tell if you are referring to my line about working with “diverse” students in “diverse” schools but I was attempting to mock my old ways of thinking and common ways white teachers try to justify they aren’t racist. It is helpful to know that the way I worded that sentence didn’t read as I thought it did- thank you so much for bringing that to my attention! Regardless, I totally agree, students are students and there is so much work to be done to confront and dismantle the racism.

      Like

  2. This is a fantastic list of resources! Have you listened to the 1619 and the Seeing White podcast? Both great. I also learn soooo much from Pod Save the People, and you will not regret following the four hosts on Twitter. They share a ton of resources and learning and help me push my thinking. Dr Bettina Love’s We Want to Do More Than Survive is a must read. I think you’d really like Zaretta Hammond’s Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain too. Oh, and Gholdy Muhammad’s amazing Cultivating Genius–another must-read! The problem with saying that we see our students as students is that we are missing a hugely salient part of our students’ identity, culture, and experience if we don’t see their race. Our Black students and students of color need for us to see ALL of them–and to love and value their Blackness and their color, which is such a vital part of who they are. I’m really appreciative of this list and your work and your thoughts here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elizabeth, thank you for your suggestions! I just started listening to Pod Save the People and I have Seeing White and 1619 queued up next! I ordered Bettina’s book (I just saw her speak through a webinar the other night and was in aw) and I need to read the other two! Thank you so so much for your suggestions and thoughtful reflection. I appreciate your work and advocacy!

      Liked by 1 person

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