So you want to be "anti-racist"... 5 Steps to Truly Combat Racism
First of all, I'd like to open with some information and a plea. While there are facts on race in America that we should refer to whenever possible, we must be willing to recognize that opinions form the vast majority of conversations around this topic; and if you want to be a part of the true solution for racism, it would behoove you to keep an open mind. While this is a very difficult thing to do especially in today's social climate, I'm asking you to set aside judgment and personal opinions just while you read this piece. This piece, though supported with facts, is still an opinion. Regard it as such. As with any of my controversial pieces, I ask that before you share, comment, or message me, you read my entire piece thoroughly. Whenever something seems controversial to you, err on the side of tolerance and kindness and you'll most likely find my intent. I am thrilled to welcome you to this piece and hope that it might be a helpful resource to you and your loved ones as we pursue equality together.
I thought about not including pictures in this, but it was too long for me to read without a GIF...or 17. So if those are what offends you..... ignore them please.
Our hearts are in the right place, but we've got to do it the right way.
I know it's not the same for anyone, but at the heart of the Modern Civil Rights Movement that I advocate for is one fundamental concept: that black people in America have been mistreated since they were first forced upon this land. At times it feels hopeless; but we aren't the same nation that we were in 1850 or 1950, and that's something to be proud of. The Civil Rights Movement made unbelievable strides in ensuring equality across the nation- and seeing that continue today is something I am proud and honored to be a part of.
As a member of the white community who passionately has been advocating for black civil liberties, I got to wondering: how do I channel my passion into productive and meaningful interactions? So I decided to outline 5 ways that I, and perhaps others, could try to navigate this.
Step 1: Define your Goals
Ultimately, the job of the "anti-racist" comes down to two objectives: (1) recognizing the influence of prejudice, and (2) furthering the agenda of racial equality. What this requires is two distinctive actions- the first of which is an introspective examination of self, and the other is a mission in the greater world. So, how do we do those?
(1) Recognizing the influence of prejudice:
Identify your race. Sure, I know it seems obvious, but this is a crucial part of anti-racism that cannot be overlooked. This is the stage that a lot of people skip without recognizing its importance. How do you identify? Has that identity shifted throughout your life? Is that identity something that you boast or hide?
Identify which stage of racial identity development you are in- and spend time contemplating any stages that came before and how they manifested in your life (we used to only have the Helms model, but now there are three. Go do this, right now.) Eventually the goal is for each of us to become aware of our racial identity, accept it as socially meaningful and outwardly noticeable, and internalize a "realistically positive view of whiteness which is not based on assumed superiority" (Lawrence and Tatum).
Explore the ways in which you have either benefited from or been victimized by systems of oppression
(2) Accepting your mission in the greater world:
Build your foundation on respect. Here's where I can already hear some of you saying "but they haven't respected black people!" I hear you, I acknowledge you, I understand you. Without a doubt, American society has treated its black citizens with an appalling lack of respect in the past and the present. Call it my dumb optimism, call it my religious ideology, but I (try to) treat others the way I want to be treated. I'm not black, I can't advocate for black people, but I can tell you that in the history of this nation, respect has gotten minorities further than violence ever has. Respect your ancestry, respect your fellow human beings, and (as hard as I know it can be at times like this) respect the law. In times like these, I personally turn to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., who "in no sense [advocated] evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law."
(P.S.- While Martin Luther King, Jr. is my inspiration, to say that his actions alone were responsible for the changes we saw during and after the Civil Rights Movement would be amiss. The black community of the 1950s/60s was led and influenced by a number of leaders: all of which had different ideals, but the same goal (sound familiar?). So while what I advocate for might sound more like an 'MLK' approach, as opposed to BLM's seemingly 'Malcolm X' approach, it's important to note that in the past, it was likely the cooperation among movements that led to social change.) That being said...
Focus on love. Yes, I know I sound like a hippie. "But they didn't treat black people with love!" I hear you, I acknowledge you, I understand you. The black community within America has been lacking love from their countrymen for a long, long time. That's the heart-wrenching truth, and it's horrible. But luckily, I think that's something we all have the capability to do well: love. If you show hate, you aren't supporting a movement about civil rights and equality, you're supporting a movement about power. Which you are entitled to do, but I won't be condoning those actions, and I actively discourage others from condoning any actions that showcase hatred or violence. A movement devoid of love at its core
Don't go looking to play the moral police. I know the feeling of being a white person and feeling like it is my moral obligation to call out anyone whose views differ from extreme advocacy. I literally did it when this movement began (I'm sorry). However, I now know that in authorizing myself to be the "moral social media police", what I was actually doing was pushing people away from the cause that I was trying to support, instead of finding common ground with them. (We'll go over that more later).
Step 2: Gather Information
If you are still trying to grasp the issue of race in America (as I believe we all are, regardless of race), there's a lot of information to be sought. I'm one of those obnoxious people who believes that learning is something we do every day- and the only stupid people are the ones who think they know everything.
Books - this list is a fantastic compilation of books that explore racism in America, especially for people who don't necessarily feel the effects of prejudice daily. And while I haven't read more than two of them at the time of publication, there are countless titles I can't wait to order off Amazon in the next few days. But, some people find books like that really dry. I recommend that you also choose books that cater to your interests. For example, I love sports- so viewing race through the lens of sports is a great way that I am able to absorb information and keep myself engaged. For those of you who share an interest in sports and race like me, I highly suggest In Black and White, Forty Million Dollar Slaves, Benching Jim Crow, and The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism. If you have other interests, finding books that intersect both your passions and prejudice is an awesome way to integrate race studies into other aspects of your life.
Media- I hardly have any authority to talk about this, because I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've watched a movie or show in the last two months. But, I do know that there are some amazing pieces out there right now to encourage conversations about race and challenge our perceptions on it. I am STILL mad that this show was cancelled, but one of the only shows I've ever watched religiously was Underground. It's a dramatic thriller of a show that I promise will keep you engaged, and it also is incredibly educational about the way that slaves were treated and the obstacles they overcame in their pursuit of freedom. I can't recommend it enough if you want to develop empathy for black people in America.
Primary Sources- these days, this is the only source you can trust. Throughout my experience (detailed further below), I found that the vast majority of arguments that people make are with inaccurate or incomplete information. If you plan to argue anything, people, first of all finish reading this article, but also, know every detail of what you're citing. Half a quote from a letter isn't good enough information. Read and understand the entire dang thing before you rattle it off to someone else. I could go on about this for literally ever but it's not the point of this piece. When you're tempted to cite a statistic, if you don't want to look stupid, read the whole study. Information is often skewed to support the opinions of those reporting it. Don't fall victim to that truth.
Conversations- this is the major learning opportunity that I think has been massively underutilized. I remember this was suggested on an Instagram post, and it changed my opinions, strengthened my friendships, and has challenged me to think differently. I've made a point out of involving my black friends and mentors in discussions on the issues in America. As much as I love to talk, I have to challenge myself to listen and not interrupt (I'm the worst with that). Forbes published a list of 13 strategies to improve your active listening skills, and whether you use them now or later, I promise that if you print this list out and refer to it from time to time, it's going to change your life.
Step 3: Acknowledge Opinions
Oooooo this is the tough part. And that's why I put so much work into it, and why it's so long.
When aiming to fight racism, I've found one thing to be true for myself: while educating yourself provides a good foundation, if you want to truly understand something to its core, there is no substitute for personal experience in the form of difficult, uncomfortable, (and often controversial) personal investigations.
As you may have read in an earlier post, while I had spent substantial time studying racism in the United States up to the age of 21, I wanted to see it firsthand, in the South, to fully grasp it in order to know how to fight it. The details of those experiences are posted on this blog, and if you're interested in race issues or life in the South, I encourage you to read some of those previous posts.
Side note: My interests in American history run deep- and while I wish racism wasn't even something I need to understand, it's a huge (though heinous) part of America's past. I had read about it for almost a decade at that point- but being from California, I felt the need to be able to properly sympathize with the plight that I had never known in order to know where to go from there. According to one of my friends, that utilization of the black experience in America as a learning experience was wrong. Although I know that people these days look for anything to be upset about, that was a statement that perturbed me- and caused me to turn to a few of my friends who I consider to be leaders in the black community for their opinions. What one of them told me is something that I found very comforting: "Nobody can judge your intent except for you- and I know you; you have a good heart- I know your intent was pure".
By the same token, the modern ideals of white "allyship" and "anti-racists" were two concepts which I have been exploring a lot recently. For me to fully understand something, I've got to do some leg work myself. And hopefully because I did, you won't have to. After posting what I deemed to be two important topics and getting backlash, I realized that there was something greater here that I needed to investigate.
So, if you follow me on Facebook or other forms of social media, you might have come across some particularly controversial posts lately, wondering what the heck was going on- and as much as I would love to say I've lost my marbles, that happened a long time ago, so this was not by accident.
Now this is not to say that the statements in my controversial posts didn't come from a place of genuine emotion and curiosity- I picked topics that were ones I could actually perpetuate a dialogue around. I'm not going to pretend that I'm everyone's cup of tea. Nor do I care to be. So feel free to call me rude, or racist, or whatever else you'd like to call me for doing my own investigations, but that's the kind of person I am. If you're the type that can use my experiences as a substitute for yours, please do.
Over the course of three days (with the exception of one post in which was sincere), I placed three highly controversial posts in the midst of a slew of other posts, some showing outspoken support for the movement and others completely unrelated, in an attempt to see what kind of responses would be given from the family and friends that I have on Facebook (and others that I honestly didn't know I had-oops). To give you an idea of this group, I was born and raised in a Southern California suburb where white liberals are the mass demographic. My family and older friends tend to have more conservative viewpoints. And my friends from my time in Alabama round out my conservative pool. I had initially expected more of a response from my more conservative connections- but BOY was I wrong.
Two of the controversial posts garnered over 200 comments in total. The others, in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement, garnered less than 10 in total. One of the unrelated posts had a total of 60 comments, the others got, like, two.
Now you may be wondering what the heck I was hoping to investigate or to prove through this social media experiment (or maybe you're still mad in which case I apologize and hope you now are able to understand but I'm an investigative type).
First of all, let me say that I love how fired-up people got to have the opportunity to be "anti-racist". Part of me was so proud. It was promising. It was exciting. But it was also... misaimed. If you stand on a corner yelling about social justice to other people who already advocate for social justice, the inevitable will happen:
you will find some fundamental difference in the things you believe,
that difference will become the focus of your conversation, and
that conversation will leave one (or both) of you feeling as if you are not instrumental to the cause, leaving the cause weaker than before, and completely contradicting what you had hoped to achieve.
What I had hoped to achieve here was to experience life on the unpopular side of today's arguments and translate that experience back to the people who claim to be dismantling white supremacy brick-by-brick. I wanted to understand how people that are not opposed to equality are treated within our current society, and explore the effects that self-proclaimed "allies" and "anti-racists" have on the momentum of the movement toward equality.
Now- to clarify, I am not speaking about any movement specifically. Please do not take this to mean that I am referring to the "Black Lives Matter" movement. As many of you are aware, I recently denounced the Black Lives Matter movement as being one that has strayed too far from what I had understood its focus to be. If you identify as part of that movement, the difference we have in opinions is valid, nobody's opinion is a fact, and we can still work together having the same goal for equality in the United States.
My findings were conclusive; that
(a) controversial opinions, even when portrayed through the lens of curiosity and open-forum discussion, were met with hostility,
(b) those who supported controversial opinions would not publicly do so, but rather would message their support privately, and
(c) people are afraid to voice their opinions, and with good reason.
This proves that people who have questions that they are afraid of asking or discussions that they are afraid of creating will not be suppressed, and silence is not our friend. When silence becomes the only acceptable means of self-expression, the people you are truly so afraid of will just go into hiding and find others who share their ideologies, spiraling further into a divisive mindset instead of feeling welcomed as part of the solution. As someone who has been a self-proclaimed civil rights activist for over half of my life, I can tell you that over the course of a few "discussions", I was met with so much hostility that I legitimately lost my passion in the cause- only to realize that the only people doing this silencing were white. In fact, over the course of these conversations, only one biracial person got involved (that I know of- I'm sure it's not obvious for all), and two black people spoke to me with a great deal of patience and understanding. Now, there are limitations to this observation: more diverse audiences might not have answered because they felt it was a lost cause. Some might have thought it wasn't worth the time to argue. Still, others told me frankly that they had a fear of being perceived as an "Uncle Tom" if they vocally advocated for non-violent protests or inclusive solutions.
I shouldn't even have to say this- it doesn't even seem like my place. But since I'm the only irreverent jerk willing to say it, if any of you (black, white, purple, green, I don't care) make a black person feel as though advocating for social justice through the use of peace makes them a complicit "Uncle Tom", that's not helpful.
If that phrase is new to you, it's one that you should look into. "Uncle Tom" was a character created by Harriet Beecher Stowe who has become synonymous with "servility and self-hatred" according to U.C. Davis' Professor Turner, who teaches African-American studies. In history detailed by the Smithsonian, however, Uncle Tom was a hero. And for someone who claims to be part of a movement which encourages black equality to diminish the opinions of a black person because of their adversity to the norm is, as you can hopefully see, completely contradictory and, as many trolls should say "not okay."
In a movement for black people, led by black people, no black person's opinion is allowed to be silenced- whether by someone from another race or from within their own. The animosity of today's social and political climate has created a platform which has been socially divisive even among the black community.
Already the population of black people in America is divided within itself because of some peoples' perceptions of light versus dark skin in the black population and opinions on race relations with those outside of the black community. When hate-filled white groups perpetuate confusion, conflict, and provide a barrier to a "holistic black identity", they foster a society in which even among people of their own race feel like they can't belong. (Okonofua 2013). These problems must be solved first in order to foster black unity, by encouraging black Americans to explore and voice their opinions.
The first observation that I made in my experience was that the initial reaction from numerous people was the suggestion to "take it down", "stop embarrassing yourself", or "quit digging yourself deeper". For a group of people preaching tolerance, what I was being met with was the infamous "cancel culture" of today. Loretta Ross, an expert on racism and human rights, talks about this in her article "I'm a Black Feminist. I Think Call-Out Culture is Toxic" in the New York Times. As she addresses herself, often this is the first method that activists use to facilitate "social justice" before learning that it is in fact contradictory to our/their objective. President Obama recently addressed this ideology, particularly referencing "young people on college campuses", who insist that change can be made through "being as judgmental as possible". He continued that this idea of "purity and you're never compromised and you're always politically 'woke' and all that stuff... You should get over that quickly. The world is messy, there are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws."
White activists, your hearts are in the right place- that I can tell. But this "holier than thou" attitude has got to go if we're ever going to become a nation of equals. Silencing someone does nothing to further the pursuit of justice and equality.
With one of the goals of the "anti-racist" being to dismantle racism, it became clear to me that the current attempts were counter-productive, and a change of nation starts with a change of heart.
Step 4: Presentation is Key.
You first need to confirm that the person you'd like to talk to is willing to even hear you. If they already hate you and have no interest in spending time with you, why would they bother listening to what you have to say?
The place in which you are having your conversation is equally as important as what's being said. Though sometimes online is the only means that you have of communicating with someone (or maybe that's the only way you're willing to do it), in person is usually better. If you're brave (and smart) you'll go somewhere where your adversary feels comfortable. Somewhere that they would consider their territory, and a place that allows for conversation that might get passionate (i.e., not in the middle of a library or at a busy restaurant where the waiter will be trying to rush you out the door). Now, if meeting in person isn't an option, agree on a forum and a time- which shows the other person that you value their time and want to make sure that the conversation can be conclusive instead of just left on read. (Which might happen anyway, I wish I could help with that).
Choose your words carefully. According to research done by Cornell University, phrasing things in a new way that hasn't been pushed in this person's face a million times will do you well. "People who posted their original opinion using the word 'I,' signaling a personal belief, were more likely to change their minds compared to people who used the word “we” in their posts, which signaled a broader viewpoint. People who responded by qualifying their arguments – using words such as 'it may be the case' – were more persuasive than those who posted staunch opinions" (Tan, Niculae, et al., 2016).
This is a tip I recommend in every argument you will ever be in in your life, because it works. Using 'I' statements instead of 'you' statements make people more receptive to what you're saying, because it is perceived as less of an attack. This helps to decrease blame while increasing self-awareness and personal responsibility. If you throw out a 'you' statement, be prepared to be met with someone's defensive reactions. ("Key 2018'"). The Journal of Language and Social Psychology even pointed out correlations between someone's use of the pronoun 'I', and their level of depression and/or social status (Kacewicz, Pennebaker, et al., 2013). So you might even be doing yourself some favors at the same time!
"The number of replies within an online thread also signaled the likelihood the original poster would change his viewpoint. Some back-and-forth – up to four times – yielded positive results, but after five replies, posters were significantly less likely to change their minds." So if your point hasn't been successful after four or five solid bouts of reasoning, you might be in over your head. (Tan, Niculae, et al., 2016).
Give the opportunity for an "out". Don't judge, it's just a fact of human behavior- nobody wants to admit that they were wrong, even when confronted with facts that prove otherwise. In fact, studies show that when people are confronted with facts that blatantly disprove something, those people will cling harder to the principles they might not have even care about before (Gal & Rucker, 2010). Receptiveness and open-mindedness go down as someone else's insistence goes up. This is referred to by some as the "backlash effect". In this fight for equality, "your ego is not your amigo", as my favorite shirt of one of my best friends used to say. World-renowned scientist Ozan Varol suggests using phrases that emphasize that this person's view was one the right one given what they previously knew, but now that the information has changed, their opinion will surely have some shifts in relation to it.
Make sure you separate the person's beliefs from them as a person. When beliefs are intertwined with personal identity, questioning one may feel like questioning the whole person (Varol 2017). Questioning someone's judgment is never nice- but if you're able to start to separate a person from their beliefs, they begin to be able to look at them objectively and show a slightly lower resistance to change. Likewise, viewing your own beliefs as separate from yourself will allow you to stay level-headed and keep emotion out of the way of what you're trying to discuss. Although I'm sure you care, getting fired up and emotional is a quick way to allow others to discredit you. Be aware of that trick, and as hard as it is, try to keep grounded.
Empathize. "Humans operate on different frequencies. If someone disagrees with you, it’s not because they’re wrong, and you’re right. It’s because they believe something that you don’t believe. The challenge is to figure out what that thing is and adjust your frequency" (Varol 2017). Infusing empathy into your discussions will have a positive effect both on you and the other person.
Respect. I'm going to say this one again, louder for the ones in the back. Seattle-based researcher Boting Zhang has spent the last few years chronicling the evolution of relationships between people of adverse political views, and it all comes down to one key fact: "productive exchange is also more likely when there’s a mutual foundation of respect and friendship" (Zhang).
Ask questions and share experiences. "Asking questions—and showing a genuine desire to hear and acknowledge the answers—sets a different tone that boosts the odds of a productive resolution, or at least a friendlier stalemate that inspires further thought and discussion. Persuasion that endures isn’t a one-sided sales job, but a fertile exchange—one in which your own thinking may evolve in ways you hadn’t expected" (Svoboda 2017).
One study from the University of Georgia suggested that speaking faster may be a more persuasive tactic, as it allows your "adversary" less time to formulate their opinion. To me, that's tricky, deceiving, and does not foster actual change or critical thinking.
Say something nice. Throw out a compliment, or emphasize some part of the opposing side's argument that you agree with ("Proven Ways to Change Someone's Mind").
Remember that the best way to lead is by example. If you want someone to give your opinions respect, then you've got to do the hard work and give their's the time of day, too.
Step 5: Foster Lasting Change
So you want to make the world a better place. Heck yes. If nobody else has, let me be the first to virtually shake your hand and welcome you to the good fight.
There will always be adversity, and you can't go into a game without knowing the game plan. Many of you who haven't yet figured out your strategy might find yourselves feeling helpless. "How do I change the mind of someone stuck in their ways?" What's funny is, I've been telling you how to do that all along.
MLK laid out his strategy as: "four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action". And if you're an MLK fan, I encourage you to read more on that in his Letter From Birmingham Jail if you haven't already. Even if you aren't an MLK fan, it's a good basis for educating yourself on his policies.
But to keep this discussion open to everyone and based on science, I'll refer to psychologist Christopher Dwyer, P.h.D., who lays it all out simply in his article "How to Change People's Minds". What he encourages is for us to open dialogue with each other in specific ways:
I touched on this above in the very first section, but taking time to gather your thoughts, collect information, and become self-aware is always the first step. When talking with someone, reflection can take on a new meaning. Asking questions like "do you remember the first time you learned about race?" or "what was your first experience with racism?" and sharing personal stories helps to build rapport, which-in turn- leads to more receptiveness.
Because of the "backlash effect" discussed above, you already know that going into an argument with the intent to argue something is futile. "The less you try to force a particular set of views on someone, the freer they’ll feel to reflect honestly on what they think—and maybe even revise their thinking down the line." (Svoboda 2017).
Seek the Truth
If you make it clear that your goal is to team up with this person to discover the truth, it becomes a noble team mission instead of a competition for bragging rights.
This means not only of other people's arguments, but yours as well. All too often, we only associate with people who hold beliefs similar to ours. It makes sense- but when all you receive is positive feedback and not criticism, your opinions are never challenged and any arguments you try to make will be less successful as a result (Varol 2017).
There isn't going to be some fantastic Eureka moment. I'm sorry. I know that's not what anyone wants to hear, but it's not a one-and-done conversation, and each time you go back to the conversation, you've got to do it all over again. But once those seeds of change are planted and you water them with loving care, invite the person you have been working with to join you in the cause. Even something simple will allow them to feel like part of the solution- and even if they don't have your creed memorized, that's better than an adversary, wouldn't you agree?
Now- am I the poster child for doing things right in this tumultuous time? Absolutely not. By no means do I want that inferred. I have so many things to work on, as I discovered during my various interactions- and practice is the only way to make those things stick (which is so hard when you care about something)!
Also, I'm not saying these will work on everyone. Or anyone. What I'm simply suggesting is that if your goal is really to further the progress of the movement toward black equality, you're going to want to use these tips just in case. You never know when it might be the perfect time to change someone's mind.
Now it would be pretty hypocritical of me to talk about amplifying black voices without getting input from that population on my own piece about helping them. For that reason, I ensured that this entire piece was read and edited by multiple members of the black community- I can't tell y'all how grateful I am to you for guiding me and giving me your input.
But once I finally finished this piece, I realized that I had even more questions than before: questions that I, as a white person, was curious about and wanted to share with you. I asked a panel of participants to complete a survey for me regarding black opinions on white involvement in the movement toward racial equality. .
Now, while I did my best to phrase the questions in a way that would not influence bias and attempted to get feedback from members of the black community with various ideologies, heritages, and locations, my research still has limitations. While this group cannot collectively speak for all of the black population, I think that their opinions give us all something to think about. (As the responses continue to come in I will update this post). Interpret them as you see fit, I just wanted to giver anyone who read this some food for thought. These answers are current as of June 26th at 3 pm.
Participants were asked: "If you had to sum up your goals for the current movements in one word, which would most closely resemble your focus: Justice, Equality, Power, Recognition, Respect, or Peace." The majority of respondents (55.56%) chose 'Equality', while 'Justice', 'Respect', and 'Peace' were all tied with 11.11% of the vote. 'Power' and 'Recognition' were not chosen by anyone.
Participants were then asked how closely the official #BLM movement and organization represents their personal goals and attitudes toward racial equality at this time. 72.73% responded that the official #BLM movement and organization represents their goals and attitudes perfectly. 18.18% said that it somewhat represented their goals and attitudes, and 1 respondent stated that they wished BLM wasn't an organization but rather a statement. "The organization can have a different name and preach the same message."
When asked about their stance on black equality in America, 36% were in favor of a "By any means necessary" approach, 9% didn't care how they achieved equality, just that they do, and 54% said that they would prefer for nonviolent tactics to be used, but would be understanding and/or supportive of any actions taken.
When asked how proud they are to be American at this point in time, the majority of respondents (45%) stated that they are 'not proud at all'. 27% stated that they were 'not very proud', 9% of respondents were 'neutral', and 18% of respondents said that they were 'somewhat proud'. Not a single respondent selected that they were currently 'very proud' of being American.
I then asked the participants what their general feelings on white involvement in the pursuit of racial equality were. 82% were of the mindset that 'we can use all the help we can get', while 9% stated that 'this is a black issue, and should be centered around black people'. 1 respondent answered that they were in favor of white involvement but "must be weary of those that hijack the movement by seeing it as a fad."
36% of black people surveyed felt that white people have been listening to them 'about the same as they ever have', while another 36% felt that white people 'seem to be listening to me better'. 27% of respondents felt that white people have been listening to them 'a lot more'.
A majority of respondents (64%) felt as though great strides had not been made toward equality in the last month.
82% stated that they felt there was 'a lot of respect being displayed in the #BLM movement'.
This was the kicker. This was where y'all got me emotional. I asked "If you could address all white people right now and tell them something, what would it be?" Every single answer I got was awesome, insightful, and inspiring- and I could write them all out if you'd like, but these were some of my personal favorites:
"Help change the narrative about black people in your inner circles, with family especially and friends. Black people are human as well and you should recognize us as human. Therefore, just like all humans there are bad apples but majority of black people are good people. Additionally, we understand that we won't receive a handout even though we probably deserve. However, we would simply like for equality and equity."
"I wouldn’t be where I am or have had the opportunities or experience if it wasn’t because of you. Please help create peace for those who don’t see what’s right."
"Let us enjoy the same lives you enjoy. Let's chill at the cook out instead of y'all calling the police. Dance in the streets with us. Be one with us."
"We love you!"
We love you, too.
My last question asked participants if they had any other things they wanted to express. While most said they had nothing else to say, one respondent pointed out their belief that things would probably become worse post-election, while another emphasized that "we have a long way to go before we have true equality. (Montanari 2020).
By the way, none of these were guinea pigs. While I invited everyone to get their fellow community members involved, the vast majority of respondents were people that I love, know, and respect. To each and every one of you who answered (if you're reading this), I can't extend my gratitude enough- and I hope that you know you are not just a number to me. You are miracle descendants who have defied all odds and whose ancestors have endured unimaginable things in bringing you to life.
I have so many things I want to say, but this post is already going to take up wayyyyy too much of your time, so I'll leave them out.
We've got a long way to go. And whether you're a proud American who is excited to finally finish making this land truly the land of the free and equal or someone who now hates America and wants to burn it down, although your approaches might differ from mine, all are understandable, all are important, and all are still working, tirelessly, toward different versions of the same goal.