A young white man’s shooting of Black people in Buffalo echoed the El Paso shooting. In both cases, white men traveled to targeted locations to harm members of hated groups. They claimed to be protecting white Americans. They do not speak for me.
As a white person who has been both learner and educator, I have been engaging with anti-racism and anti-white supremacist work for over 30 years. I want to share resources for learning and taking action. White people need to be talking to other white people about learning about our part in creating the unequal, inequitable, highly-problematic systems in this country. Those of us who benefit from white supremacy’s legacy and on-going systems must work to dismantle these patterns. We must also speak out as white people who do not support hate.
The Southern Poverty Law Center documented over 733 active hate groups in the US last year, and this number is climbing. 52 of these hate groups are in the state of Texas. Remember these are just the groups that are organized and publicly identified; this does not include more informal networks of individuals spewing hatred and intolerance. If you are white and are not thinking about the impact of white supremacy in our current situation, then you need to. How many more black, brown, queer, Muslim, transgender, indigenous, female, Jewish people need to die before confronting and stopping this hate is relevant to you? How many white supremacist massacres will it take? Thoughts and prayers are not enough to change this culture. It’s going to take your action.
White El Pasoans, it’s time for us to do more. How many more cities will have to mourn like our own has, and like Buffalo is right now? How many queer communities need to be torn apart like that of Orlando after the Pulse shooting? If anyone else wants to join in, that’s great, but white folks need to be talking to other white folks about white supremacy, straight folks need to be talking to other straight folks about homophobia and transphobia.
It’s time to educate yourself about how racism operates within institutions, like finance, healthcare, education, government, etc. and start to do something to create more equitable systems. You may ask what can I do to change our financial institutions, create economically just systems, ensure all people have equitable access to voting, dismantle health inequalities, reform the criminal justice system, create more equitable and safe schools, colleges and universities, work for immigrant rights?
I say to you, get up and do SOMETHING. Waiting to find the perfect action can become a way of avoiding first steps. Pick an action and build on it. For example, research your bank and find out if their investment strategies and policies support racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, or anti-LGBTQ corporations. Speak up at your child’s school board meetings to ensure access to library books and curricula that reflect all races, ethnicities, identities, religions etc. Join PFLAG and support other families struggling to accept and support their queer family members. You can educate yourself about the deadly legacies of racism and white supremacy, of entrenched sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, of xenophobia, religious intolerance, and ableism in this country. Help purge these horrific realities and create a more just and safe world for all.
The Borderland Rainbow Center provides free and low-cost education for you that equips you to do more. Take our new course “Education is a Protest: Cause Advocacy for Social Workers,” opening May 31st. This course is for everyone, not just social workers! It will walk you through how to write a letter about your cause. It will equip you advocate for whatever cause you choose. The course is completely free. Register here now: https://www.driep.org/event-details/cause-advocacy-for-social-workers
Our anti-racism course has already reached over 50,000 people… folks from every state of the US, folks from every continent on this planet (except Antarctica). It’s $5 for the general public. https://www.driep.org/event-details/anti-racism-training-individual-registration. That’s very reasonable for six hours of education about the history of racism in this country, some great self-discovery around implicit bias, and a kick-butt list of pragmatic actions you can take going forward.
Check out all of the offerings at www.driep.org. This is the BRC’s training and education division. We are ready to give you pragmatic learning and tools to change our society. Join us in this project. See below what is in store for our world if we fail to work to interrupt the pyramid of hate. Will you be part of the problem, or part of the solution?
By Brenda Risch, PhD, LCSW - Executive Director and Founder of the BRC