Fwd: Choosing to stand together.
From: Scott Jackson (sjackzen46gmail.com)
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:06:11 -0700 (PDT)
I thought I'd follow up May Boeve's email with this longer and more
incisive blogpost from Janee Woods that came to me by way of Training for
Change.

Scott Jackson
sjackzen46 [at] gmail.com
   Becoming a White Ally to Black People in the Aftermath of the Michael
Brown Murder janeewoods.com
<http://janeewoods.com/2014/08/14/becoming-a-white-ally-to-black-people-in-the-aftermath-of-the-michael-brown-murder/>
· by janeewoods · August 19, 2014
 [image: Michael Brown]Michael Brown

As we all know by now, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenage boy, was
gunned down by the police while walking to his grandmother’s house in the
middle of the afternoon. For the past few days my Facebook newsfeed has
been full of stories about the incidents unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri.

But then I realized something.

For the first couple of days, almost all of the status updates expressing
anger and grief about yet another extrajudicial killing of an unarmed black
boy, the news articles about the militarized police altercations with
community members and the horrifying pictures of his dead body on the city
concrete were posted by people of color. Outpourings of rage and demands
for justice were voiced by black people, Latinos, Asian Americans, Arab
American Muslims. But posts by white people were few at first and those
that I saw were posted mostly by my white activist or academic friends who
are committed to putting themselves on the frontlines of any conversation
about racial or economic injustice in America. And almost nothing, silence
practically, by the majority of my nonactivist, nonacademic white friends-
those same people who gleefully jumped on the bandwagon to dump buckets of
ice over their heads to raise money for ALS and those same people who
immediately wrote heartfelt messages about reaching out to loved ones
suffering from depression following the suicide of the extraordinary Robin
Williams, may he rest in peace. But an unarmed black teenager minding his
own business walking down the street in broad daylight gets harassed and
murdered by a white police officer and those same people seem to have
nothing urgent to say about pervasive, systemic, deadly racism in America?

They have nothing to say?

Why? The simplest explanation is because Facebook is, well, Facebook. It’s
not the New York Times or a town hall meeting or the current events class
at your high school. It’s the internet playground for sharing cat videos,
cheeky status updates about the joys and tribulations of living with
toddlers, and humble bragging about your fabulous European vacation. Some
people don’t think Facebook is the forum for serious conversations. Okay,
that’s fine if you fall into that category and your wall is nothing but
rainbows and happy talk about how much you love your life.

However, I think the explanation is more complex and mirrors the silence of
many people that I witness in real life. A lot of white people aren’t
speaking out publicly against the killing of Michael Brown because they
don’t see a space for themselves to engage meaningfully in the conversation
so that they can move to action against racism. It’s not so much that they
have nothing to say but rather they don’t see an opportunity being opened
up for them to say something or to do something that matters. Or they might
not be sure what to say or how to do it. They might have a hard time seeing
a role for themselves in the fight against racism because they aren’t
racist, they don’t feel that racism affects them or their loved ones
personally, they worry that talking about race and differences between
cultures might make things worse, or they think they rarely see overt
racism at play in their everyday lives. And, sometimes, they are afraid.
There’s a real fear of saying the wrong thing even if the intention is
pure, of being alienated socially and economically from other white people
for standing in solidarity with black people, or of putting one’s self in
harm’s way, whether the harm be physical or psychological.  I’m not saying
those aren’t valid fears but I am challenging white people to consider
carefully whether failing to speak out or act because of those fears is
justified when white silence and inaction mean the oppression and death of
black people.

Let’s talk about an active role for white people in the fight against
racism because racism burdens all of us and is destroying our communities.
And, quite frankly, because white people have a role in undoing racism
because white people created and, for the most part, currently maintain
(whether they want to or not) the racist system that benefits white people
to the detriment of people of color. My white friends who’ve spoken out
harshly against the murder of Michael Brown end with a similar refrain:
What can I do that will matter in the fight against racism?

White people who are sick and tired of racism should work hard to become
white allies.

In the aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown, may he rest in power, here
are some ways for white people to become white allies who are engaged
thoughtfully and critically in examining the situation in Ferguson and
standing on the side of justice and equity. This list is a good place to
start your fight to dismantle racial inequity and shine a light on the
oppressive structures that lead to yet another extrajudicial killing of a
black person.

1. *Learn about the racialized history of Ferguson and how it reflects the
racialized history of America.  *Michael Brown’s murder is not a social
anomaly or statistical outlier. It is the direct product
<http://time.com/3104128/michael-brown-ferguson-cop-shooting-protests/> of
deadly tensions born from decades of housing discrimination, white flight,
intergenerational poverty and racial profiling. The militarized police
response
<https://medium.com/@mcbyrne/failing-in-ferguson-how-the-police-are-doing-everything-wrong-and-why-its-dangerous-for-everyone-82e21325f622>
to peaceful assembly by the people mirrors what happened in the 1960s
during the Civil Rights Movement.

2. *Reject the “He Was a Good Kid” narrative and lift up the “Black Lives
Matter” narrative.* Michael Brown was a good kid, by accounts of those who
knew him during his short life. But that’s not why his death is tragic. His
death isn’t tragic because he was a sweet kid on his way to college next
week. His death is tragic because he was a human being and his life
mattered.
<http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/08/michael_brown_and_our_obsession_with_respectable_black_victims.html>
The Good Kid narrative might provoke some sympathy but what it really does
is support the lie that as a rule black people, black men in particular,
have a norm of violence or criminal behavior. The Good Kid narrative says
that this kid didn’t deserve to die because his goodness was the exception
to the rule. This is wrong. This kid didn’t deserve to die because he was a
human being and black lives matter.

3. *Use words that speak the truth about the disempowerment, oppression,
disinvestment and racism that are rampant in our communities.*  Be mindful,
political and socially aware with your language. Notice how the mainstream
news outlets are using words like riot and looting to describe the uprising
in Ferguson.  What’s happening is not a riot
<http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2014/08/things-stop-distracted-black-person-gets-murdered-police/>.
The people are protesting and engaging in a justified rebellion. They have
a righteous anger and are revolting against the police who have terrorized
them for years.

4. *Understand the modern forms of race oppression and slavery and how they
are intertwined with policing, the courts and the prison industrial
complex.*  We don’t enslave black people on the plantation cotton fields
anymore. Now we lock them up in for profit prisons at disproportionate
rates and for longer sentences for the same crimes than white people. And
when they are released, they are second class citizens stripped of voting
rights and denied access to housing, employment and education.  Mass
incarceration is The New Jim Crow <http://newjimcrow.com/>.

5. *Examine the interplay between poverty and racial equity.* The twin
pillar of racism is economic injustice
<http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91626373> but do not
use class issues to trump race issues and avoid the racism conversation.
While racism and class oppression are tangled together
<http://www.blackcollegian.com/the-connection-between-racism-and-poverty/>
in this country, the fact remains that the number one predictor of
prosperity and access to opportunity is race.

6. *Diversify your media.* Be intentional about looking for and paying
close attention to diverse voices of color on the tv, on the internet and
on the radio to help shape your awareness, understanding and thinking about
political, economic and social issues. Check out Colorlines
<http://colorlines.com/>, The Root <http://www.theroot.com/> or This Week
in Blackness <http://thisweekinblackness.com/> to get started.

7.* Adhere to the philosophy of nonviolence as you resist racism and
oppression. *Dr. Martin Luther King advocated for nonviolent conflict
reconciliation as the primary strategy of the Civil Rights Movement and the
charge of His Final Marching Orders
<http://www.wagingnonviolence.org/feature/mlks-final-marching-orders-2/>.  East
Point Peace Academy <http://eastpointpeace.org/> offers online resources
and in person training on nonviolence that is accessible to all people
regardless of ability to pay.

8. *Find support from fellow white allies.* Challenge and encourage each
other to dig deeper, even when it hurts and especially when you feel
confused and angry and sad and hopeless, so that you can be more authentic
in your shared journey with people of color to uphold and protect
principles of antiracism and equity in our society.  Go to workshops like
Training for Change’s Whites Confronting Racism
<https://www.trainingforchange.org/workshop/whites-confronting-racism>
or European
Dissent <http://www.pisab.org/programs> by The People’s Institute.  Attend The
White Privilege Conference <http://www.whiteprivilegeconference.com/> or
the Facing Race <https://facingrace.raceforward.org/> conference. Some
organizations offer scholarships or reduced fees to help people attend if
funding is an issue.

9. *If you are a person of faith, look to your scriptures or holy texts for
guidance.* Seek out faith based organizations like Sojourners
<http://sojo.net/> and follow faith leaders that incorporate social justice
into their ministry. Ask your clergy person to address antiracism in their
sermons and teachings. If you are not a person of faith, learn how the
world’s religions view social justice issues so that when you have
opportunity to invite people of faith to also become white allies, you can
talk with them meaningfully about why being a white ally is supported by
their spiritual beliefs.

10. *Don’t be afraid to be unpopular.* Let’s be realistic. If you start
calling out all the racism you witness (and it will be a lot once you know
what you’re looking at) some people might not want to hang out with you as
much. That’s a risk you’ll need to accept. But think about it like this:
staying silent when you witness oppression is the same as supporting
oppression. So you can be the popular person who stands with the oppressor
or you can be the (maybe) unpopular person who stands for equality and
dignity for all people. Which person would you prefer to be? And honestly,
if some people don’t want to hang out with you anymore once you show
yourself as a white ally then why would you even want to be friends with
them anyway? They’re probably racists.

11. *Be proactive in your own community.* As a white ally, you are not
limited to being reactionary and only rising up to stand on the side of
justice when black people are being subjected to violence very visibly and
publicly. Moments of crisis do not need to be the catalyst because taking
action against systemic racism is always appropriate because systemic
racism permeates nearly every institution and community in this country.
Some ideas for action: organize a community conversation about the state of
police-community relations
<http://everyday-democracy.org/resources/police-community-relations#.U-wvLCqF_Xw>*
in your neighborhood, support leaders of color by donating your time or
money to their campaigns or causes, ask the local library to host a showing
and discussion group about the documentary RACE – The Power of an Illusion
<http://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm>, attend workshops to
learn how to transform conflict into opportunity for dialogue
<http://www.publicconversations.org/>. Gather together diverse white allies
that represent the diversity of backgrounds in your community. Antiracism
is not a liberals only cause. Antiracism is a movement for all people,
whether they be conservative, progressive, rich, poor, urban or rural.

12.* Don’t give up.* We’re 400 years into this racist system and it’s going
to take a long, long, long time to dismantle these atrocities. The
antiracism movement is a struggle for generations, not simply the hot
button issue of the moment. Transformation of a broken system doesn’t
happen quickly or easily. You may not see or feel the positive impact of
your white allyship in the next month, the next year, the next decade or
even your lifetime. But don’t ever stop. Being a white ally matters because
your thoughts, deeds and actions will be part of what turns the tide
someday. Change starts with the individual.

This is a list of just 12 ways to be an ally. There are many more ways and
I invite you to consider what else you can do to become a strong and loyal
white ally. People of color, black people especially, cannot and should not
shoulder the burden for dismantling the racist, white supremacist system
that devalues and criminalizes black life without the all in support,
blood, sweat and tears of white people. If you are not already a white
ally, now is the time to become one.

People are literally dying.

Black people are dying and it’s not your personal fault that black people
are dying because you’re white but if you don’t make a purposeful choice to
become a white ally and actively work to dismantle the racist system
running America for the benefit of white people then it becomes your shame
because you are white and black lives matter. And if you live your whole
life and then die without making a purposeful choice to become a white ally
then American racism becomes your legacy.

The choice is yours.

**Disclosure: I work at this organization but the views expressed in this
piece are my own and not necessarily those of the organization.*

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: May Boeve - 350.org <350 [at] 350.org>
Date: Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 7:42 PM
Subject: Choosing to stand together.
To: Scott Jackson <sjackzen46 [at] gmail.com>


 Friends,

We weren't sure exactly how to write this email.

Like many of you, we've been doing a whole lot of reading, listening, and
reflecting over the past week, and we feel like this is an important thing
for us to say (even if it's not the kind of thing you're used to hearing
from us):

*350.org <http://350.org> stands in solidarity with those in Ferguson,
Missouri protesting the shooting of unarmed black teenager Mike Brown --
and we call on the climate movement to stand with us. *We believe
unequivocally that working for racial justice is a crucial part of fighting
climate change.

Communities of color and poor communities are hit first and hardest by the
impacts of a climate system spiraling out of control. From those impacted
by Hurricane Katrina nearly a decade ago, to the New York neighborhoods
that bore the brunt of Hurricane Sandy, to whole towns in the Philippines
devastated by Typhoon Haiyan just last year -- these communities are on the
front lines of our fight in a very real way. If their voices are not part
of this movement, then this movement will not succeed.

Movements for justice in the U.S. are often fractured, and powerful
interests -- like the fossil fuel industry -- try their hardest to make
those divisions wider. *Choosing to stand together is one of the most
important choices we can make.* In this moment, that means being frank
about the ongoing legacy of racial injustice in our country.

We want to honor the work of grassroots racial justice organizers around
the country, and we've asked some of them for guidance on how folks in the
climate movement can show their support. Here are two things you can do:

*If you would like to donate to the family of Mike Brown or racial justice
organizers working in Missouri, click here to get connected
<http://act.350.org/go/5657?t=1&akid=4950.1105958.lCPVoN>. *Reading more
about allyship and solidarity is also helpful -- this blog post
<http://act.350.org/go/5658?t=2&akid=4950.1105958.lCPVoN> from my colleague
Deirdre Smith is a good place to start.

The tensions and inequalities now dividing our world make fighting climate
change so much more challenging, even as climate change threatens to deepen
those tensions and divide our movements. Here at 350.org, we care deeply
about confronting the climate crisis -- and we also care that fossil fuels
impact the air we breathe, the stability of our communities, and the
ability of families to plan for their futures. We seek big, bold solutions
to the climate crisis, and that takes a big, bold movement.

One way we're building that big movement is through the People’s Climate
March <http://act.350.org/go/5419?t=3&akid=4950.1105958.lCPVoN>, which
we've been working hard on for the past couple of months. As part of that
process, we’ve had the opportunity to work with more people of color and
people of color led organizations. We're grateful for their partnership,
and for the partnership of others in the climate movement who are speaking
out and making these connections.

*And, as ever, we are grateful to be part of building a compassionate
movement with all of you.*

Thank you,

May & 350.org's U.S. team
------------------------------

350.org <http://350.org?akid=4950.1105958.lCPVoN> is building a global
climate movement. Become a sustaining donor to keep this movement strong
and growing. <https://act.350.org/donate/build/?akid=4950.1105958.lCPVoN>

You can update your contact information here
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