By Clare Lampen with The Cut
Photo: Stephen Maturen, Getty Images
As Black leaders across the world led millions into the streets in protest of the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many more, SURJ co-founder and Leadership Team member Carla Wallce spoke to The Cut of NY Magazine about how white people get involved and stay involved in racial justice:
Take the time to learn how systemic racism operates in this country, particularly if you are a white person. Indeed, among the best things white people can do is to take the time to educate themselves on the experience of being Black in America — here are some suggestions if you’re looking for a starting point — and start talking to other white people.
“One of the challenges is, white people want to call people of color and say, ‘What am I supposed to do,’ which puts a tremendous burden on people of color,” Carla Wallace, a co-founder of Showing Up for Racial Justice, tells the Cut. “Our work is to move other white people.”
Anti-racism demands that we identify the hierarchies and power structures that have always awarded privilege to white people, and look at them honestly. Showing Up for Racial Justice developed a tool kit with Color of Change, and also has tips for calling people into conversations in a manner that doesn’t prompt defensiveness. You hear someone griping about the riots and violence at certain protests? Talk to them about the despair, the pain, and the anger at the center, and where that comes from. You hear someone wonder what privilege a broke white person has? Talk to them about what it’s like to not have to worry about your personal safety while moving through your day: jogging down a residential street, or walking home from a convenience store. But, Wallace recommends, exercise empathy over the urge to reproach.
“Unless we get more white people to end white silence, our silence will always be used by those in power to not make the changes that are needed. The majority of white people in this country are still on the side of business as usual,” Wallace says. “If 10,000 white people showed up tomorrow on the steps of Louisville’s City Hall, you can bet the mayor would fire these police officers who killed Breonna Taylor. …We have to win a significant number to stand with Black, brown, and indigenous communities for the justice that we all need in this country.”