How White People Can Help Dismantle White Supremacy

We don’t know exactly what it will take to dismantle white supremacy, but what we do know is that…

White supremacy depends on:

  • White people not thinking about or noticing race, racism, and white supremacy most of the time. So instead, if we want to dismantle white supremacy, we can look at everything through an aware racial lens.
  • White people not understanding or knowing much about the dynamics of racism and white supremacy both historically and today throughout our society. So instead, we can be ongoing learners, constantly seeking ways to learn more.
  • White people not speaking up when racism and white supremacy are being enacted. So instead, we can develop our courage and skill to speak up often, even when we don’t know what the best thing to say is.
  • White people remaining largely separate from people of color. So instead, we can desegregate our lives.
  • White people thinking white people must solve this problem for people of color. So instead, we can follow the leadership of people of color, build relationships with people of color, and seek to play a positive role in dismantling the current oppressive system with people of color (while also grounding our actions in knowing that we personally want a world free of white supremacy for ourselves, as well as for everyone else).
  • White people feeling we have to act alone. So instead, we can actively find kindred souls among white people, build solidarity, and challenge individualism and be part of groups that will help us do our work.
  • White people thinking our comfort is more important than the comfort of people of color. So instead, we can be willing to be uncomfortable, including emotionally uncomfortable. This will open up new opportunities to learn, speak up, and take action.
  • White people remaining defensive when racism is pointed out. So instead, we can develop an attitude of welcoming correction and see it as assistance in escaping from the unawareness to which our society has heavily conditioned us.
  • White people protecting ourselves against feeling how painful it is to look squarely at racism and its horrible effects on people of color. So instead, we can face racism, feel deeply, and cry. This will be healing.
  • White people avoiding dealing with white supremacy for fear of feeling overwhelmed, guilty, hopeless, powerless, despairing, or feeling bad about ourselves. So instead, we can refuse to let these feelings stop us from stepping up and acting to help dismantle white supremacy.
  • White people being unwilling to share our financial, material, and personal resources. So instead, we can donate sums of money that are significant for us, thus developing our ability to use our resources to promote equity.
  • White people doing nothing because we are afraid of making a mistake. So instead, we can risk making mistakes; humbly clean them up and learn from them, if we make them; and be bold enough to make a difference.

Russ Vernon-Jones, January 2018