If you’ve so much as turned on the TV, I’m sure you know that what has been going on in the world has been completely heart wrenching. If you’ve logged on to instagram I’m sure you’ve seen endless posts dedicated to the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many more innocent black lives murdered due to police brutality. As a young white woman from rural Canada that grew up in a town of 3000 people, I am the epitome of white privilege and will never truly understand what my black brothers & sisters are feeling.
After the intense, heavy past few days I knew I needed to step up and change the way I live my everyday life. To not just “not be racist” but to be completely and utterly anti-racist. But how? How do I show up online properly? I was nervous to step on anyones toes, which just proves my privilege even more so. I knew I had to ask for some clarity. Lately, an online friend (turned real life friend), Ife (@cashewmilkps) has been challenging me (without even knowing it) to look at my white privilege in a new light, to figure out what it truly means to me, to journal on it. I’ve reached out to her to answer some questions that anyone with a social media following of > 1 should be pondering. I hope this helps clarify things.
I would never want to offend anyone with the content I’ve created. How do I acknowledge race on social media in a sensitive, respectful way?
The only people you should be worried about offending when talking about racism on social media are people of color. I saw that the Black Lives Matter movement was turned into an Instagram challenge. Before you post something, I want you to ask yourself if it is actually helpful. Does it include a call to action or steps that someone can take? Is it informative, and can people learn from it? If not, maybe don’t post it. I’d rather see a post/story that breaks down white fragility or tells me where to donate, than one that simply includes a #blm hashtag. Honestly, I never want to see that Instagram challenge again.
A lot of nonblack people of color and white people claim that they do not know what to say because they are worried of saying the wrong thing and that is a really lazy excuse. If you are struggling to find the words to say, post someone else’s words. Post donation and petition links. Post anti-racism resources like, books, documentaries or podcasts.
Of course, make sure you are also using these resources for your own benefit. If you actually care about black lives, you have to do the research. You have to actively work to be better and to be anti-racist. Once you have done this, talking about race might come easier to you.
I understand that I have white privilege — but I don’t exactly know what it means? What would you tell the person who wants to understand more about the topic but doesn’t know where to start.
White privilege does not mean you have never faced any hardships in life. It means that none of those hardships were caused by the color of your skin. It is something white people struggle to notice because they were born with it. You can go about your daily life without ever worrying that someone will harm you or that you will face difficulty because of the color of your skin. White privilege means that the world is tailored for white people. In a world that is tailored for white people, black people and other people of color are at a disadvantage.
By being white, you are a part of the majority and that tends to come with respect, access and power. Here are a few things that I, and other black people, often struggle with; being comfortable around the police, seeing people that look like me everywhere I go, being followed around in a store, trusting doctors with my life, finding skincare and haircare products tailored for black people, and so on. The list is incredibly long. These are things white people take for granted because you never have to think of them.
I feel helpless like there’s nothing that I can do to help anyone. What would you tell the person who says “I’m just 1 person, it’s not like I can actually change anything?”
I understand this feeling. There are so many issues in the world and it can be overwhelming. However, you cannot do nothing. That is the worst thing you could do. You need to ask yourself if you are doing everything within your power to be an ally. Are you educating yourself? Are you calling out your friends, family, colleagues, partners for racist behaviour? Are you donating what you can? Are you supporting black-owned businesses? Are you attending marches, if possible? Do you share resources for other people so that they can learn too? I think it’s immoral to stay silent. Social media is also a great tool. If you have more than 0 followers, use your platform wisely. I cringe at people with 10k, 100k, 1mil followers staying silent. It is a wasted opportunity. If you stay silent, especially at a time like this, I can only assume that you are okay with what is going on.
I don’t like watching the news. I’m just going to stay out of this one. What would you tell the person who wants to stay inside their bubble of positivity?
I understand that watching the news can be draining and emotional. I also get overwhelmed when I am flooded with so many sad stories. It is important to take breaks from the news if you feel that it is affecting your mental health. However, it is incredibly privileged to say that you are choosing to stay uninformed, choosing to stay in your bubble of positivity. If you can afford to turn a blind eye to racial discrimination, that is the epitome of white privilege. Like @laurenmorrill says, “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people.” If you don’t acknowledge racism and you are not vocal about it, you are giving racist institutions and racist people permission to continue mistreating black people. If black people could end racism on our own, we would have done it already. We need nonblack people of color and white people to step up and help us. FUCK your bubble of positivity.
The fight for racial equality does not start and end with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade. Their murders were horrible, and we must acknowledge them. However, this is not a 24-hour issue. Racism is not new, and racism is not just police brutality. It’s the racial wage gap, it’s laughing at racist jokes, it’s pretending not to see color, it’s the denial of white privilege, it’s racial stereotypes, it’s not wanting to date people of color, it’s crossing the street when you see a black man, it’s thinking that immigrants are ruining your country. There are so many layers to racism and I hope that people do not think it only comes in the form of police brutality. I just want to reiterate that you should continue to do your research. You cannot be an ally if you are uninformed.
How can I Help?
Here are some links to different fundraisers supporting #blacklivesmatter. I understand that not everyone can financially support these causes, but you can sign petitions and share them. That is helping.
- The family of George Floyd: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
- Donate to Black Lives Matter: You can find the main donation page here.
- The “Justice for George Floyd” petition on Change.org already has 8.5 million supporters. That sends a big message. Find it here.
- Sign a petition: Civil rights group Color of Change launched a petition asking that all the officers involved in Floyd’s death are brought to justice. Find it here.
- Black Visions Collective — “a Black-led, Queer and Trans centering organization whose mission is to organize powerful, connected Black communities and dismantle systems of violence…through building strategic campaigns, investing in Black leadership, and engaging in cultural and narrative organizing.” Donate Here
- Reclaim the Block — “organizes Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that truly promote community health and safety.” Donate Here (alternate link for those outside the US)
- Northstar Health Collective — “physicians, nurses, healers, herbalists, doula [who] work in alliance with mainstream and anti-authoritarian organizations to create a safe and healthy events.” Donate Here
- Minnesota Freedom Fund — “pays criminal bail and immigration bond for those who cannot afford to” as they “seek to end discriminatory, coercive, and oppressive jailing.”
- National Bail Out — “a Black-led and Black-centered collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to support our folks and end systems of pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration.” Donate Here
Note: Please do NOT donate directly to Change.org — the money will not go to the organizers of the petition. Please donate instead to one of the organizations listed above.
White House Petition — Demand the arrests of Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng.
Justice for Floyd — Demand the officers who killed George Floyd are charged with murder.
Justice for Breonna Taylor — Demand the arrests of the officers involved, and pay damages to Taylor’s family.
Justice For Tony McDade — Bring public attention to McDade’s unjust murder at the hands of Tallahassee police.
Reclaim the Block — Tell Minneapolis City Council to defund the police.
A list of books on anti-racism here.