What Can a White Person Do to Be Anti-Racist?

By Michael Behr –

 

As a part of The Communications Network’s ComNetLOCAL Event seriesI recently had the opportunity to participate in an intimate virtual conversation with Dr. Clarence B. Jones, civil rights legend, speechwriter, counsel, and close personal friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Check out the event with a full recording of the conversation here: ComNetworkSEATTLE: Racial Justice and Renewal with Dr. Clarence B. Jones 

 

As part of my interviewing process to become Minerva Strategies’ summer intern, I was asked whether I would be a good fit for a team that that strives to make the world a better place and understands that “unrecognized bias in our thinking perpetuates inequitable systems of power?” I answered simply: “I can’t see myself doing anything else.”  

 

I cannot morally live my life without working for a better, more equitable future for all. As the Goddess spoke in my intern interview post a few weeks ago, I had just turned 16 when Michael Brownonly two years older than mewas killed a short 15minute drive from my home. I watched as the Black Lives Matter movement was born and ignited throughout the city and the country. I listened and watched while the world condemned the destruction of property but continued to allow the destruction of human lives. This lit a fire in me that I refuse to let die.  

 

As a White person, I recognize that we must tread carefully to ensure our words do not drown out the valuable input and perspectives of BIPOC people. But, what we do need more of is White people engaged in ending White supremacy and all its modern and systemic forms. The first stepseek out resources to educate yourself on systemic inequalities. This week, thanks to Dr. Clarence B. Jones, I found out how simple that can be. I didn’t even have to leave my living room! 

 

Here’s what I learned. 

1. Social justice includes media justice. This is not only representation in media of all the world’s incredible human diversity, but also raising and amplifying the authentic, first-hand narratives of people with complex intersectional identities. As humans, we tend towards wanting simple, easy-to-digest stories, and it is the duty of communication professionals to create nuance and include diverse perspectives in communication efforts. 

2. We are in the midst of an unprecedented social movement. Dr. Jones said it best, we are seeing “the largest participation of White people in the history of any social movement, a larger number of sustained protests, larger than the protests against the war in Vietnam. The demographic composition of the Black Lives Matter movement surpassed our Civil Rights movement and the anti-war movement because it forced people to say, around this one issue: Is this the kind of country I want to live in? Is this who we are?” 

3. We owe it to the legends of past social movements to heed their expert advice. As we mourned the death of fellow civil rights icon Representative John Lewis only six days prior to the event, Dr. Jones reminded all of the youth in attendance to learn from those who have done the work before us, the work that has gotten us this far, because there aren’t many of them left. As youth, we possess the energy and the potential to change the world for our future. For White people like me, that starts with self-education. 

 

As I fall asleep to the ominous constant hum of helicopters flying overhead my apartment, five blocks from what once was Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protests (CHOP), hearing echoes of Black Live Matter chants bounce off the expensive and ever-increasing skyscrapers of the Seattle skyline, I am inspired to continue protesting by the infamous words referenced by Dr. Jones. If not me, who? And if not now, when?” 

 

What does the future of protests look like? For White peopleit’s ending the excuses, the belief that if we ignore the racist history of our country that it will go away, and the wrong-headed stance that it’s not our problem. We need to learn morethrough books, listening, and, yes, in Zoom callsand in learning allow ourselves to be forever changed so that we all find it unconscionable to work anywhere that isn’t dedicated to examining biases, dismantling inequitable systems of power, and living out the values of racial justice. 

 

If you are looking for resources, check out this amazing guide I used throughout June, which allows you to devote specified time each day to reading, listening or watching linked material to advance your anti-racism education! 

About The Author

Minerva Strategies

Minerva Strategies

The Minerva team has decades of experience working with nonprofits, foundations, and values-driven companies. Minerva also partners with experts—trusted designers, web developers, global communications professionals, and others—who share our excitement for creating positive social change. Through these partnerships, we can build a team that is tailored to your needs. Learn more about who we are or what we do.