5 Ways White People Can Help Right Now

Over the last few days, I have had quite a few of my white friends reach out to me and ask the question, “What can I do?” People’s hearts are broken. People want to HELP. All these videos… All this abuse… We don’t know what to do. It just feels like wave after wave of injustice and ignorance and hatred. And if this much racial injustice and abuse is being recorded, just try to imagine how much is NOT being recorded. It’s overwhelming. But please hear me: Things are NOT hopeless, and we are NOT helpless. Here are five things we can do right now, as white people, to help our Black brothers & sisters in their fight for justice, equality, and human rights:

1. LISTEN — In my opinion, this is the most important thing we can do. Stop talking… Stop getting defensive… And just listen. Believe the Black voices around you who have been saying for YEARS that things are not okay. Black voices have been pleading with their white brothers & sisters to LISTEN. If we had been listening, believing, and responding to those voices, we would not be in the situation we are in today. As Martin Luther King, Jr. has said, “Riot is the language of the unheard.” Part of that listening is revisiting the prophetic black voices of the past. Look up videos of Angela Davis (HERE IS ONE from 50 years ago during her prison hunger strike), James Baldwin (HERE’S ONE about riots), Malcom X (SPEAKING ABOUT police brutality), and speeches by Dr. King other than his “I Have A Dream” speech (Like his “Letter From A Birmingham Jail.” Listen to the whole thing). Listen to the still-speaking voices of Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Dr. Cornel West. Get on Twitter, and find the voices of today’s black leadership in social justice to follow…. And listen, Listen, LISTEN.

2. SPEAK UP — I know… “Which is it?” right? “Do you want me to listen, or do you want me to speak up?” Well, the answer is both. We should be listening more than we are talking, but if we see or hear someone saying something ignorantly racist and harmful, it is our RESPONSIBILITY to speak up — especially when dealing with our white friends and family. Be willing to sacrifice relationships with racist relatives. Be ready to deal with the anger that comes with white fragility. Make yourself uncomfortable. It is not the responsibility of Black people to educate white folks on our own racism, implicit biases, and how we are supporting white supremacy. Don’t put this on our Black brothers and sisters. They are exhausted. They are using their voice and their energy right now to say something that SHOULD be self-evident: I am a human being, and I don’t deserve to die because I didn’t satisfactorily submit to your authority.”

3. FOLLOW BLACK LEADERSHIP — Today, Reddit’s co-founder Alexis Ohanian stepped down from the board, asked them to replace him with a Black person, vowed to use future gains on his stocks to combat racial hatred, and he gave a million dollars to Colin Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights Camp.” Where we can, we white folks need to seek out and follow Black leadership. In many cases, this will mean actively stepping back from our own positions of leadership. If you are in a position, use your voice and authority to DEMAND more representation from People of Color on boards and in leadership roles. Amplify the voices of Black people. And if you are joining the crowds of protestors declaring that Black Lives Matter, this will mean looking to Black leadership to see what to do next, and using every bit of your white privilege to stand between violence and the black bodies it is intended for. If you want a visual example of what that looks like, watch this video…

4. STOP SAYING THESE THINGS — Honestly, this started as the whole topic of this blog post. I was super pissed, and I just wanted to rage against all the ignorance around me… But here’s the thing: Not very long ago, this was ME saying these things. And it’s easier to let go of some of that rage when you remember you used to be the same way. People can learn. We can change. And even though there are SO many more than two things we need to stop saying, in the hopes of keeping this relatively short, here are two:

  • “Not All White People”
    White people — If I said, “White people treat 911 like it’s customer service,” how do those words make you feel? Did you have a deep sense of “NOT ME!” Did it make you feel “discriminated against?” Did it make you feel like leaving a comment about how my saying something like this was only being “divisive?” Did something inside you long to cry out “NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE!”About a week and a half ago (though it feels more like a year), I wrote a post titled “White People Care More About A Lady Choking Her Dog Than We Do About Police Choking A Black Man.” And I got a FLURRY of “Not All White People” responses. It was more of a blizzard… A white-out, really. People read the title, and they were OUTRAGED that anyone would say something so discriminatory. “That’s not fair to say,” they let me know. “I care about BOTH,” many said. “I know PLENTY of white people who care more about George Floyd’s death than the dog getting choked.” And on and on… This phenomenon is known as “Not-All-ing,” and it’s designed to help people avoid the uncomfortable feeling of taking responsibility for the actions of a group they are a part of, under the guise of not generalizing. “Not all white people.” “Not all men.” “Not all cops.” It’s the beating heart of the anger at the “Okay Boomer” & the “Karen” memes… It’s everywhere.

    If someone says “Republicans don’t care about poor people,” or “Christians are responsible for most of the suffering in the world,” obviously they are not making the statement that there are no exceptions. If a statement like this doesn’t apply to you, simply let it go. I am a straight, white man. If I spent my time being offended every time someone came at straight, white men, I’d have no time to do anything else… Besides, straight, white men are the FREAKING WORST. The point is this: If someone says “White people are to blame for this,” and your first thought is “Not ALL white people” instead of examining the ways we white people ARE to blame for this, then your heart is in the wrong place. Your focus is on defending rather than restoring.

    All-Sheep-Matter_2048x-1

    More brilliance from David Hayward, the “Naked Pastor.”

  • “All Lives Matter.”
    I can’t believe people are still saying this… It’s been covered so many different ways. But in addition to helping by not saying it, we can help by being able to explain to other white people why saying it is so very harmful and hateful. If you go to a doctor because your arm is broken, she doesn’t tell you “All bones matter.” When people post remembrances of the September 11th attacks, people don’t respond with “All buildings matter.” If someone wears a breast cancer t-shirt, what kind of a person demands the person wearing that shirt acknowledge that “ALL cancers matter”??But people keep doing this with Black Lives… And it’s super gross. All lives CAN’T matter until Black lives matter. And if you call yourself a Christian and you are saying “All lives matter,” you have missed the entire point of Jesus. When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God, he spoke about God being like a shepherd who, when one sheep was lost, left the 99 other sheep to find it. Because THAT what the sheep who needed help. Right now, our Black brothers and sisters need HELP. And anyone who feels the need to say “All Lives Matter” as a response to “Black Lives Matter,” is not only not helping… They are actively doing harm. It needs to stop.

5. LOOK FOR REASONS TO BE HOPEFUL — People who are without hope are not motivated to help work for change. Despite the steady stream of violence and brutality and garbage coming at us, there are reasons to be hopeful. Just the fact that these protests are happening is reason to be hopeful… Can you imagine if the world saw George Floyd handcuffed and murdered with a knee on his neck, calling out for his dead mother (think of Jesus on the cross), while people pleaded with those officers to spare his life… and then no one DID ANYTHING??? No one marched? No one screamed? No one got angry? THAT would be a reason to lose hope…

In Nashville (where I live), more than 20,000 people just marched and protested the other day… This action was started and organized by FOUR TEENAGE GIRLS. There are reasons to be hopeful. Here is an amazing photo from the march taken by Alex Kent…

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100% kick ass.

And it’s not just young people who are inspired to act. This 83 year old woman stood outside of her house and held up a sign that read “Defend Black Voices” as marchers walked by. She told them, “I am so proud of you young people.” Listen to them cheer for her. There are reasons to be hopeful…

When a center for low-income housing asked for food donations in Minneapolis this week, so many people responded that it turned into a distribution center for food. They had more than they could handle, and told people to take what they needed. I wrote about it HERE. There are reasons to be hopeful…

One more… When people were fleeing police violence and teargas in D.C., a man named Rahul Dubey invited dozens of scared protestors into his home. Police waited outside, and even knocked on his door demanding he send them out to get arrested. He refused. He let about 70 people spend the night in his home. You can read the story HERE. There are reasons to be hopeful…

There are many more things that need to be done. Systemic problems need systemic change… And that doesn’t happen overnight. But the kinds of changes that our country needs to make are not going to take place unless we white folks wake up and help work to make it happen. So listen… Speak up… Follow Black leaders… Stop saying stupid things… And look for reasons to be hopeful. Don’t give up. I love you.

 

Five years ago, I wrote a post called “13 Things White People Do When You Point Out Racism.” It’s still good today, if you’d like to read it. There are many other things white folks need to stop doing. We need to stop seeking out the one black voice out of 1000 who agrees with our racist world view. *CoughCandaceOwensCough* And we need to stop looking for character assassination stories to “justify” ending a life. It’s disgusting. If you see people doing this, call them out.

Anyway, I really do love you, and I’m thankful you read this. If you’d like to support this blog, you can BECOME A PATRON. It’s easy and fun, and it makes a difference. If you’d like to leave me a tip, you can DO THAT ON PAYPAL, or you can Venmo me at “chris-boeskool”. And if you’d like to keep up with me, you can follow me on Facebook and on Twitter.

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6 Responses to 5 Ways White People Can Help Right Now

  1. Wonderfully written.

    • Former MPD Officer says:

      No way did I expect anything clever here
      It really speaks volumes how much you suck up
      Get your head out of your ass
      Go care about people worth a damn
      End your social media addiction
      Redeem yourself!

      Lie all you want
      Only an idiot can believe this
      Very clever propaganda
      Every word
      Reeks of dishonesty

      • theboeskool says:

        A few questions:
        1) Suck up to who?
        2) Who are the people who aren’t “worth a damn?”
        3) Which is it… Am I not clever, or am I clever?
        And 4) Can you give an example of where I was dishonest?

  2. Pingback: For Those Concerned About Rioting and Looting… | The Boeskool

  3. Patricia Kraegel says:

    ?

    • Patricia Kraegel says:

      Thank you for your always right on commentary. And, re: the comment from the former Minneapolis cop- retired or fired?

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