President Lyndon Baines Johnson once argued, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
Damali Ayo, that wonderful woman, has five steps that anyone can do to help end racism:
For white people:
Admit it: You have a race. So does everyone. Use the words “white people”. Know that racism still goes on in America and you benefit. Know that your opinions are shaped by the white experience.
- Listen: When a person of colour trusts you enough to tell you about an experience with racism, just listen. Do not try to explain it away or somehow make it better.
- Educate yourself: Read up on racism on your own, in books and on the Internet. Read books and see films by people of colour. They are part of your country, you should know this stuff. But please do not ask people of colour all kinds of strange questions!
- Broaden your experience: But only after the first three steps! Go alone to events and places where most people are not white – not as a tourist but to break out of your limited whitebread world. The same with your friends: you should have good friends from all sorts of backgrounds.
- Take action: When someone says something racist, point it out, even if it is your friend or your mother. Be gentle but firm, civil but direct. Coming from you as a white person it will have a much bigger effect . The same with the media: write a letter to the editor and say that you are white. At work and at school push for a better mix of people – it is better for everyone, even white people.