It’s Time to Speak Up and End #WhiteSilence! 10 Great Reads for White Allies

Ever since Mike Brown’s murder… I’ve been obsessed with gathering and sharing information about the #BlackLivesMatter movement. During this time, I’ve been continually disappointed with the lack of visibility of the #BlackLives movement in mainstream American culture which is inherently “white”.

To be specific, I have also noticed glaring discrepancies in my social media feeds (sites like Twitter, Instagram and especially Facebook) between my white and black “friends”. While black friends, neighbors, and relatives post a variety of content and commentary, including news about what is happening related to #BlackLivesMatter movement, save for a few key white friends, I have seen almost NOTHING in their posts related to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This is hard to understand when over the past year a seemingly unending stream of black bodies has been streaming across news headlines, blogs, and social media sites.

And I’m not alone. The very fact that #whitesilence is a trending hashtag on Twitter is clear proof that White folks as a group are clearly avoiding conversations about race…. even those who would consider themselves White Allies.

I get it. Race is a hard subject, and frankly, often a depressing one at that. That said, at some point, with Black folks getting massacred in churches and such, I would hope that my White friends could take SOME time away from posting cute videos of hedgehogs in teacups (I gotta say, they are DARN cute!) to post thoughts or share content in support of racial equity in our country.

But things are starting to change.

Recently, I am seeing more and more of my White friends speaking up publicly about race:

After telling my friend Julie M. about the #whitesilence I see in my white friends post, she posed a question in her Facebook feed:

“Inspired by my friend Ali Collins, I’m starting an open thread to talk about the Charleston massacre and race. Here’s a place for a respectful conversation, where it’s ok to make mistakes, it’s just important that we talk together…”

Several friends responded to her query, many saying they were indeed uncomfortable about talking about race. Many said they didn’t know what to say or were worried they might say the wrong thing.

Interestingly, when I reposted her thread on MY Facebook feed, I got a response from my cousin (who is black). It was like both parts of my life (the white and black parts) were finally having conversation with one another.

He responded:

“I didn’t necessarily want to share this, but there was no way to leave a comment. ‘You people’ need to just go ahead and say what you feel without being afraid of making a mistake or saying the wrong thing. How are you going to know what the wrong thing is unless you say *something*, say what you really feel so that others can respond to it?

As seen at Roof’s arraignment, black people can be very forgiving, at least some black folks, especially religious people. White people need to educate themselves about what life is like for black people in America, need to try to view America from the black point of view before there can be any ‘conversation about race’, a phrase that I hate.”

The time is NOW. White folks, (and other non-black folks) need to speak up about anti-black racism. Do you consider yourself an ally but don’t know where to start? These are my favorite reads about why and how White folks must their voice to help fight anti-black racism.

It’s time to speak up! Here’s a Summer Reading List for white allies:

1. Most White People in America Are Completely Oblivious

by Tim Wise in AlterNet

“It is a kind of racial Rorschach (is it not?) into which each of these cases—not just Brown but all the others, from Trayvon Martin to Sean Bell to Patrick Dorismond to Aswan Watson and beyond—inevitably and without fail morph. That we see such different things when we look upon them must mean something. That so much of white America cannot see the shapes made out so clearly by most of black America cannot be a mere coincidence, nor is it likely an inherent defect in our vision. Rather, it is a socially constructed astigmatism that blinds so many to the way in which black folks often experience law enforcement.
Not to overdo the medical metaphors, but as with those other cases noted above, so too in this one did a disturbing number of whites manifest something of a repetitive motion disorder—a reflex nearly as automatic as the one that leads so many police (or wanna-be police) to fire their weapons at black men in the first place. It is a reflex to rationalize the event, defend the shooter, trash the dead with blatantly racist rhetoric and imagery, and then deny that the incident or one’s own response to it had anything to do with race.”

2. Our Racial Moment of Truth


“The flag was lowered and placed in storage on July 10 after the South Carolina Legislature voted to take it down in response to the massacre of nine black parishioners at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. The following Tuesday, as if receiving a message from the gods of history, the world was introduced to a new Atticus Finch with the publication of “Go Set a Watchman,” a young Harper Lee’s earlier manuscript, set 20 years after the fictional events in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” making it as much artifact as literature. Rather than the Atticus who urges his daughter, Scout, to climb into someone’s skin to understand him, this Atticus is now an old-line segregationist, a principled bigot who has been to a Klan meeting and asks his now-grown daughter visiting from New York City: “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world? …

… The importance of this new Atticus is that he is layered and complex in his prejudices; he might even be described as a gentleman bigot, well meaning in his supremacy. In other words, he is human, and in line with emerging research into how racial bias has evolved in our society. He is a character study in the seeming contradiction that compassion and bigotry can not only reside in the same person but often do, which is what makes racial bias, as it has mutated through the generations, so hard to address.”

(Read more here.)

3. White Silence Kills 9 in Charleston

by Jamilah Lemieux Senior Editor of Ebony Magazine

“Black people cannot change the hearts and minds of White racists, and we have exhausted ourselves beyond measure trying. We have spent years praying, marching, fighting, running, hiding, crying, attempting to prove that we were good enough, Christian enough, human enough to exist in a country to which we were forced to come as chattel—really, to exist anywhere in this world that has been touched by the rule of Westerners and Arabs who often share little but the conviction that the children of Africa are inferior.

(Read more here.)

4. Open Letter to My Fellow Whiteys

by Danny LeDuc on Medium

“White people, where you at?

I’m not kidding, white people. We have work to do. People of Color have been telling us what the problem is for decades. Their voices are not new, but it seems we are finally hearing them talk.

So we have two options: we can buckle down and start fixing what is wrong with our nation from within, like we should…or we can continue to let black folks do all the heavy lifting while we sit in the cool comfort and sip iced tea. But you know…that’s what got us into this shit in the first place.”

(Read more here.)

5. Black people are not here to teach you: What so many white Americans just can’t grasp



“[People of color] are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. —Audre Lorde

… When POC refuse to take on this dual role of spokesperson and resource library, they’re often accused of having shirked an assumed responsibility. The idea seems to be that we’ve missed an opportunity, that it’s our duty to hold white people’s hands and educate them, that we’re condemning some poor white person to a continued life of ignorance.”

(Read more here.)

6. An Open Letter to Everyone Who Thinks Having a Black Family Member Exempts Them from Racism

by Amani Ariel on Blavity

“I believe that families are the people you choose to surround yourself with. I was born Jewish, but I have moreover chosen the Jewish people as a group I first and foremost see as family. Which is why, when I am treated as an outsider in predominantly white Jewish settings — at various temples I’ve attended, at my university Hillel, with my own blood relatives — I feel challenged, uncomfortable, sometimes even defeated that I must defend my identity to my own family. As a Jew of color, I often feel alienated within mainstream Jewish institutions in North America.

It is in these moments that I remind myself to not remain quiet. It is a reminder that these narratives of the existence, importance and struggles of my people are the key to understanding. That it is these connections, the makings of noise, the understanding of how this country’s anti-Black institutions have failed my people, that will lead to the creation of a more diverse, inclusive Jewish community, one that will actively support Black lives. I remind myself that when I enter these dialogues, I can inspire others to make noise too.”

(Read more here.)

7. Diary of a Mad White Ally

by Tyra Fennell on her blog

“I came across a letter my friend, from my New York record industry days, Chris Sealey wrote to his fellow white brothers and sisters. I found it both refreshing and sad. Refreshing cause the chillest white dude I knew is still chill as ever but sad because I often feel he is an anomaly in his honest assessment of white privilege. I want to share what he wrote so my Black friends know there are conscious white people out there and so my white friends know that the first step to racial equality is acknowledgement that there really is a problem.”

(Read more here.)

8. We Need Co-conspirators, Not Allies’: How White Americans Can Fight Racism

by  in The Guardian

“People who are not black can no longer sit on the margins. They can no longer just express their sympathy: those are shallow words,” Arielle Newton, a 23-year-old black blogger said at a rally in Harlem in New York City on Monday.

“They have to act intentionally, from a point of pro-blackness. To work to make sure that black people are given the equity that we deserve.”

About 100 mourners and #BlackLivesMatter protesters attended the rally.
Despite the protest area explicitly being defined as a “black-centered space” by organizers , much of the dialogue that ensued was focused on white people, white ideologies and conversations white people may – or may not – be having at their dinner tables.

Standing towards the back of the gathering, carrying a poster that stated “Black Lives Matter” on one side and the names of black women and girls killed by police on the other, Babbie Dunnington, a 29-year-old white teacher, was one of just a few white faces in Tuesday’s majority black crowd. She said that the change had to come from white people.

“Black people didn’t enslave themselves. It shouldn’t be on them to correct that. White people have the responsibility to understand that they live in a racist society, a racist society they have created.”

(Read more here.)

9. 11 Things White People Can Do to Be Real Anti-Racist Allies 

by Kali Holloway / AlterNet

“What can white people who really want to confront and eradicate white supremacy do—on their own, every day—to fight racism? What steps can they take to push back on a system of racial inequality so deeply embedded in our culture that it takes a pile of black bodies and video footage of the murders to force a national conversation about race? Because it can feel overwhelming.

I reached out to a diverse cross-section of POC—smart, thoughtful, incisive public figures who often speak and write smartly, thoughtfully and incisively on race—to gather their thoughts. This is the resulting roundup of their suggestions. Consider it a sort of open letter to white allies who want to do the hard work of truly working to fight racism.”

(Read more here.)

10. We Make the Road by Walking: Standing Up Against Silence and Hate

by The Boiled Down Juice

“I live about three hours away from the klan camp, and this same klan came even closer to home when they recently put up a billboard on I 40 in Russellville, the town where I was born, and less than five miles from where I was raised and where my parents and grandparents were raised and where the McElroy House sits. “It’s Not Racist to Love Your People,” the billboard read, with a link to something called “White Pride Radio.” [Read our previous piece on the billboard here ]

To coincide with the klan training, the Boiled Down Juice and the McElroy House—along with a coalition of organizations and people across the region—are coming together to say that we refuse to accept the culture of silence under which so many of these white supremacist groups find protection. Moreover, we are asking people to take a stand in their own small towns and rural areas across the south (and beyond) and break through this silence, recognizing that white supremacy seldom shows up in klan robes.”

(Read more here.)

Do you know of some great reads to support White Allies? Post them in the comments below!

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