I just want to welcome you, personally, to anti-racist work. Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here. We really need you.
If you stick around and join us in this liveslong journey, I promise it will transform you. The lies are really intense. The messed-up-ness of the whiteness inside of us is really intense. The lived realities of people of color are really intense.
If you’re new here, you probably have questions. Like, “what should I do?” or “where should I start?” You may have seen lists of dozens of things white people can do. If those work for you, wonderful! Do those things. If those felt overwhelming, it’s ok. I got you. Start here. A whole list of things you can do today.
To-do list for newly or aspirationally anti-racist white people:
- If you already know your lane, like maybe you’re a nurse and you have Black patients who need you to show up for them at work today, or there are cops interacting with brown people nearby and no other white people are yet filming them, start there. If not, or whenever you next have a moment, move on to #2.
- Go read this article for white women learning calculus in a school building on fire. There are many things to read that have way more info than this article does, but this will give you a sense of the magnitude of the task before us.
- Take a deep breath. Like, literally, with your lungs. Inhale slowly. Exhale even slowlier.
3a. Please don’t skip step three. If you haven’t taken a deep breath yet, just do that. I promise it won’t take more than a minute. If you already took a breath and you want another, go for it.
- Do one thing you can do that you’re sure will help. It doesn’t have to be the best of all the helpful things (that will be hard to figure out) it just has to be helpful in some way. Don’t get bogged down in the picking, this is not your last chance to help, just pick a thing. If in one minute you can’t think of anything better, give however much money you make in one hour to Black Lives Matter. That will help.
- Tell a white person what you just did. Bonus points if you do that by talking out loud to a white person you know, but if that’s hard for whatever reason, you can just text this link to a friend and say, “Hey, I’m doing a thing because racism sucks and I want to help and this person on the internet said I’m supposed to talk to a white person about it. I think her ulterior motive might be just to get me bringing up race at all with other white people, but I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m on step five now. For step four I ______.” (Pro tip: please don’t initiate a conversation about race with a person of color right this minute.)
- Last step for this list: procure this book and make a commitment to read it. (If for some reason you’re opposed to books, download the 14 episodes of this podcast instead and make a commitment to listen. But really I recommend the book. Or both.)
Did you do all the things? All I have left to say is congratulations, so if not, feel free to stop now and do them. I’ll be here when you’re done. (If for any reason you can’t do it all right now, unfortunately white supremacy will almost for sure still be here tomorrow. Please come join us whenever you’re ready. We need you.)
What? You did it? All the things?
Congratulations! You did all the things!
You won’t usually get many congratulations in this work, but the rewards waiting for you are better than congratulations and better than cookies and better than trophies and better even than Allie Brosh’s genius gifs. You’ll get to live in a better world, more fully connected to your humanity.
But also? I’m legit proud of you in this moment! You found out that you’re at the learning to add part of a learning calculus journey and you didn’t quit even though the building is on fire. You practiced the somatic regulation you’ll need to pull yourself out of a racist trauma response and into your best anti-racist choices in the most important moments. You did something concrete that will help! You brought up race in a conversation with another white person, breaking a centuries-long pattern of white racial silence, and you committed to a next step. Good job!
Enjoy the book! When you’re done, figure out what’s next and do that. When you get stuck, which you almost for sure will, reach out to a white friend who seems to already know a few of the things you’re learning and ask for help figuring it out. Your lane is here waiting for you.
We need you.