Dear White People…

Posted on September 3, 2016


This morning I read a post about a white father of an adopted, black daughter who realized that his unconscious bias against black people had made him perceive a black man as a threat–and he wrote a piece publicly admitting his shame and embarrassment for thinking such nonsense. He also expressed sorrow that his own dark-skinned children have to endure such perceptions and the bad behavior that can accompany them. His name is Frank Somerville, and I appreciate this man’s courage in admitting his bias and how it colors his attitudes and behaviors toward other human beings–even though his Facebook profile picture  is of himself and his dark-skinned daughter.
Ever since Trayvon Martin was murdered, I’ve been watching my white family members and friends who, like the father above, are in mixed-race families. I’ve been wondering why they haven’t been speaking out against police brutality against people of color; why they haven’t been expressing support for the Black Lives Matter demands; why they haven’t been posting about their concerns for our dark-skinned family members and friends who suffer every day as a result of the structural racism and white supremacy that are baked into our institutions and harm those we love. Their silence on these matters wounds me profoundly, as I empathize with and feel deep concern for the lives and well-being of people of color in the USA and around the world.
My compassion for my brothers and sisters of color drives me to ask my white family and friends to PLEASE join me as a socially and politically active ALLY, to talk with others about bias, racism, structural inequality, injustice, and, most importantly, what we can do to amplify the voices of people of color who are calling for justice. Please join me in contacting legislators, governors, and other public figures through phone calls, emails, letters, and petitions to advocate for equal rights and justice.
As a teacher, I want equal rights and justice for ALL of my students, period. As a teacher, I feel an ethical obligation to use my platform to advocate for equal rights and justice for all. But it’s more than that. I’m not only an educator, I’m a member of the human family, and I empathize with the suffering of other human beings. I am disturbed by the knowledge that others are suffering, and I feel compelled to do anything I can to help lessen the suffering and increase equality and justice.
If you’re white and want to be a better ally to people of color, here are some things you can do to get started:
1. Listen to people of color.
2. Explore your unconscious bias. Take the implicit bias test. Consider what implications your bias has over your attitudes and behaviors toward others.
3. Educate yourself;  go to Black Lives and familiarize yourself with the issues that the movement is focused on addressing.
4. Amplify the voices of people of color who are fighting for social justice. Share a meme; post an article; support writers, activists, and artists of color by buying and publicizing their work.
5. Do research on political candidates’ platforms and vote for candidates who stand for equal rights and social justice. Contribute to candidates and social orgs that fight for social justice and equality.
6. Most importantly, RAISE YOUR VOICE. Break the silence. Let others know that you want equal rights and justice for ALL, especially those who promote racist ideas in public. Don’t let white supremacists assume that you agree with them when they dehumanize people of color. Silence is complicity.
As a white person, I enjoy many privileges that I didn’t earn, simply because of my skin tone. I  feel a moral obligation to use that privilege to speak for those who are silenced in our society. If you are white, too, I urge you to join me in working to dismantle a system that dehumanizes our family members, friends, and fellow human beings, because earth is one planet, and we are one people: the HUMAN race.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” ― Cornel West