It has been a horrific week. On Tuesday, Alton Sterling was fatally shot and killed by police officers in Baton Rouge. On Wednesday, Philando Castile bled to death in his car after being shot by police while his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter looked on in helpless horror. On Thursday, five police officers were shot and killed by snipers reportedly motivated by a desire to “kill white people, especially white officers.” And on Friday, the New York Post published a front page headline that read: CIVIL WAR. How does the country move on from a week like this?
The answer to hatred is always love, and love is a verb. There are things that both white and black people can do to help heal from this week, but in the wake of the Dallas shooting, as blame is being placed firmly on the Black Lives Matter movement, here’s what white people who consider themselves allies should know moving forward:
Understand that one person’s criminal actions are not reflective of the entire black lives matter movement.
Know that the motivations of the snipers in Dallas are not the motivations of all black people, understand that the majority of black people want true equality ― not further senseless violence.
Be a part of the revolution and speak up.
Silence is complicity. If you are outraged, express it. If you are fearful of speaking out, find the courage. Now is not the time to be silent. The revolution will be televised, and tweeted, and streamed.
Don’t speak up only in response to black death.
Black lives matter at all stages, not just when they end. If you’re against police brutality, you need to be against the other ways in which black people in America (and around the world) are oppressed.
Listening is just as important as speaking up. Often times, racial discourse may make white people feel as though they’re walking on eggshells, or that they may say the “wrong thing” at the wrong time. The way to combat this is by truly listening instead of speaking over black people or taking up space. By listening, you can better understand ways to help.
Interrogate your whiteness.
Recognize the ways in which you benefit from being white. Understand that race, as a social construct, plays a crucial role in how you navigate the world. Don’t feel as though someone is asking you to “apologize for being white” when they ask you to examine your privilege. Realize that knowing the ways that being white works in your favor helps you be a better ally to your non-white friends.
Help change the narrative and dismantle white supremacy.
Yes, you can do this.
Help to influence your white peers to fight for equality.
Call out others when you know they’re wrong. Know that, by confronting other white people and having honest dialogues about race, you can change the overall conversation about racism in America.
Reading will help shed ignorance and better inform your opinions and thoughts on the reality of race in America. Subscribe to news platforms that share important coverage on race and read works from authors who share powerful perspectives on the role it plays.
It’ll speak louder than words. Protest. Sign a petition. Call your congressperson. Try to go beyond just writing #BlackLivesMatter in your social media posts and practice what you preach, everyday.