By Diane McCash
As I continue to struggle with finding my role in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and with my fury over incident upon incident of state violence perpetrated against our poor and communities of color, I am aware that folks, like me, who are white, resourced and privileged want to help but sometimes can’t quite get over ourselves.
When you hear or see BLACK LIVES MATTER do not respond, verbally, in writing, or even in your own head, ALL LIVES MATTER. All lives don’t matter until Black lives matter. Think about it: when you were growing up, were you taught that the police were there to protect you and did you believe it? When you were growing up, did you have the expectation that your teachers cared about you? Did you believe that you mattered to your community as a whole? Many black kids growing up do not have the luxury of those expectations. They didn’t have the luxury of believing they mattered “no matter what” then and they don’t have that luxury now. It is dangerous to believe that an encounter with police will lead to increased safety for you if you are a person or a child of color. It is painful to think about that. But, you know what? If you are white, resourced and privileged that is not your pain so don’t claim it as your own.
What can we do? I will share some things I try to do:
- Do not ask your Black friends to explain things for you. Do your own homework. The emotional toll can be immense on your friend and it is not kind or fair to put people in that position.
- Show up for actions organized by and for people of color in your community. I think it would be appreciated if you asked how you can help. Helping to fund the work is often a good way to make a difference.
- Don’t join or start a conversation thinking you have solutions to offer. Take a step back and listen. Our communities of color have been experiencing harm all their lives and we need to listen to them for solutions.
- Share what you’ve learned with other white people you know. If your friends or coworkers make racist comments or if your company has racist policies in place, call it out.
- If you haven’t already, start noticing your privilege. We are slathered in it. Your experiences and the beliefs you have, based on those experiences, are skewed. That is not everyone’s reality. It is just your reality.