Talking to White People about Race
I wrote another piece earlier this year about white privilege that includes some of the articles in this post but also has several more as well.
I am a white person currently living in a city that 87% white people and in a state that is 81% white. Up until a few years ago, I never questioned my whiteness, ignorantly believed that “we’re all human and we all bleed red!” and refused to acknowledge skin color, and almost exclusively hung out with other white people. I lived in a bubble and had absolutely no concept of race relations and what racism actually is. During college, I was fortunate enough to go through a few trainings and classes that fundamentally challenged and changed many of the things I was conditioned to believe on race. I was fortunate and privileged enough to have people call me out on my bullshit and over the past few years, my beliefs have radically flipped.
Since all of that, I’ve tried having conversations with many fellow white people, only to realize how incredibly deep racism goes and how blind many white people are to the reality of racism within the US. Many of the people, but not all, are incredibly resistant to the idea that racism is not a Google definition and instead a much more complicated institution built into the fabric of US society and history. Of course, every conversation I have about race is steeped in my own white privilege – I have the ability to talk about racism without ever experiencing it.
It is interesting to see how removed white people are from race issues, including:
- Three quarters of white people don’t have any non-white friends
- Most white people in the US are completely oblivious
- Self Segregation: Why It’s Hard to Understand Ferguson
- Across America, whites are biased and they don’t even know it
There are also a lot of articles explaining white privilege:
- White privilege explained in one simple comic
- What riding my bike has taught me about white privilege
- What white people need to know and do after Ferguson
And there are articles talking about how to approach talking about racism with other white people and what white people can do:
- 3 tips for talking to other white people about racism
- 12 things white people can do now because of Ferguson
- Students are watching Ferguson (not specific to white people but still has great resources)
- 11 things white people should stop saying to black people immediately
I’ve seen so many instances of (usually white) people demanding that people of color educate them about race relations and racism (and I admit, I had several of those moments). But there’s already so much information out there that demanding someone to prove their humanity to you is not okay. There are resources that constantly talk about race, gender, class, and the intersectionality of it all that the answers you might demand of a person of color probably already exist. Some of these resources are academic, others offer their personal experiences, others are a mix of both. Using Google is always the best place to start.