“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is disappointing that these words of Dr. King in the 1960s still ring so true in 2017. Too many of us who are white don’t seem all that interested in learning about white privilege, racism or about people of color. We seem to thrive on our racial ignorance, convinced we know all we need to know, satisfied with our prejudices, content in our stereotypes and resistant to anything that might call them into question. I say “we” because I am increasingly aware of how little I know about racism.
With this in mind, my wife, Jennifer, and I have decided to make some significant changes in our behavior in 2017. These changes are intended to allow our behavior around racism catch up with our rhetoric. Like many, we tend to talk a better game than we live. We want to change that. We want our daughter to see a consistency between our words and actions.
We have resolved to the do the following…
- Subscribe to the Safety Pin Box, a subscription service designed by Black Lives Matter advocates to educate white people on racism and white privilege as well as fund grassroots efforts to address systemic racism.
- Make one significant donation each month to organizations that are directly or indirectly supporting the lives and dreams of people of color. Our first target was the Immigrant Welcome Center in Indianapolis. Planned Parenthood, the Southern Law Policy Center and ACLU are three of our next recipients.
- Purposely direct our economic transactions toward businesses, restaurants, movies, services and companies owned or with people of color in significant management roles.
- Inversely, avoid any company (or its owner) that seems opposed to efforts to create economic or social equality.
- Read only books written by people of color during 2017. We recently created a list of the top books written by people of color and were embarrassed by how few we’d actually read. We’re beginning with “The Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler and “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. Buying their books rather than using the library is another way to support black writers.
- Intentionally sit down with a person of color each month for a substantial conversation about their lives and their views.
- Attend events, protests, and educational activities organized and lead by people of color.
- Join groups and organizations led by people of color and become active learners.
- Actively oppose any actions by the Trump administrations that target minority or impoverished people.
That’s a tall task. We’ve got a lot to learn. Fortunately, I am already discovering there are a lot of people of color who are willing to be our teachers. While none of these things will change the world, we hope they change us.