My White Resistance
In these current times, a question has been asked: What can white, cis gender women do to support the communities that have been directly impacted by bigotry, bias, and racism? A one size fits all answer doesn’t exist. There are as many ways to combat racism, as there are people. In my journey as a political activist, I have a few suggestions.
Let me be clear, I am not a bourgeoisie activist. My family going back many generations were working class people. Both the women and the men did manual labor to provide the basics. My mother was even on welfare in the 1970s when I was a child. My economic journey was and still is living paycheck to paycheck and often being the sole provider for my children in a Title One School District.
I have been an activist for three years and the most important suggestion is to go to the community that you want to support. Don’t expect them to come to you. We have to go to them and listen. Listen very carefully to their lived experience and listen to what they need from us. Don’t expect to be the decision maker or the influencer even if you give money. Also, get to know them on a personal level. Get to know their hopes, dreams, their family, successes and their heartbreaks. Let them get to know you too and be transparent. Also when you go, don’t argue. It defeats the whole purpose.
The next suggestion is don’t let anyone use you. The whole idea behind this movement is humanity. We have to treat each other as equals. White supremacy tends to recreate itself. This belief of supremacy is a lie. No one is better than anyone else. Period. The dismantling of white supremacy is the goal but how we do it is just as important. Any group that has a pecking order to recreate dominance which is just another justification for tyranny. Participation in the beginning might feel good but in the end, it is not sustainable.
Another suggestion comes from reading the Malcome X biography by Alex Haley. Every activist should read it at least one time. At the end, he gives advice for white people who want to help. He suggests that we educate and work in our own community. I had been asked by a number of groups outside my community to talk to the Republicans or Libertarians. At first, I was shocked. I didn’t know anybody from these groups and didn’t want to know anybody. Have you ever tried to explain racism to people who look like you? It’s frustrating and it can escalate quickly into an argument. Learning to navigate these waters is not easy but it is worth it. Having really tough conversations is part of the work. These discussions can lead to change overtime.
We can be peacemakers and collaborators in the resistance of white supremacy. President Barack Obama is an example of a peacemaker, a resistor and of creating intentional inclusion. I do not attend white only events anymore without questions and a purpose. Whether the whites only groups are intentional or not. Being in diverse communities is essential to live what we preach. President Obama is a bridge between the white and black communities. This resistance movement needs a lot more bridges.
Carol Ann Sparrow is an undergraduate student majoring in Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University. She is a modern, stoic feminist who supports her fellow writers, poets and artists who continue to tell the truth and give life meaning.
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