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My fellow white people, we have some catching up to do.  And we need to do it fast.  While it would be nice to consider women like Amy Cooper “crazy” or anomalous in some other way, she is everywhere.  She is us and we are her.  Derek Chauvin may be an extreme and horrific example of the abuse of power, but the core nature of this power is used against people of color (POC) every day, in small and large ways.  White people use their race privilege as a weapon against POC constantly, and until we are aware of it and do something about it, it will continue, with disastrous results. The fact is, and it should abundantly clear to even the most resistant of us, that because of white people and our commitment to racism, POC are dying.

The argument isn’t, as many “good” white folks frame it, whether we are racist. As Americans, we have all been raised in a country founded by racism.  We have been breathing it in, absorbing that thinking, and benefiting from the structures that racism built (for our benefit) for our entire lives.  This will likely make us uncomfortable at first.  It may never have occurred to us.  Everyone wants to believe that they are “good.”  We like to think that racist people hate other people, that racism is individuals vs. other individuals.  That is not true. As white Americans, every single one of is racist.  Our society, our laws and our governmental structures support white supremacy and we participate in upholding those structures every single day.

We may reject this idea.  We may think it doesn’t apply to us.  We may even say “I don’t see color; everyone is the same.”  But our color blindness is a privilege, because whiteness is the default.  We don’t have to think about race because our race is the one in power. Everything is set up for the advantage of white people.  The most important thing we can do as white people is to realize that our willful blindness to this fact has been endangering those who are not white for centuries.

So, assuming we don’t want to continue this ignorance, we may now feel guilty or heartbroken or helpless (or all of those things) and ask ourselves and others but what do we DO?  The answer is straightforward. We need to become not just “not racist” (which most people consider themselves as long as they are in the KKK) but anti-racist.  Which means we need to actively fight racism, to resist it ourselves and call out other white people who are supporting it.  In order to do that, we need to challenge our fundamental thinking and learned behaviors so that we are best prepared to speak against racism and respond to racist thinking and behaviors.  We need to change our perceptions so that we can see what we have maybe never seen before.

The first step toward doing anything meaningful is to educate ourselves, and we need to do it ourselves and not rely on POC to educate us (although there are many willing to educate us and we should listen when they do).  The good news is that there are books aplenty to help us along this path.  Below is the curriculum of sorts that began my anti-racist journey.  I am no expert, I have not been trained in anti-racist work.  I’m just a white lady who reads a lot and has a strong intention to learn more about being anti-racist.  These are just some of the books I have read, and there are many more I plan to read (listed at the end of this post). I’d love to see your recommendations in the comments.

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