Dear White Friends,

I’ll start with this: I am no expert on race or relations, but what I have to share is from researching historical systemic racism and must be put out there since I continue to read ignorance and see nonsense from you on a daily basis even though most of you think you are trying to help.

Here are some tips on how you can actually begin helping the problem instead of continuing to be a part of it.

1. Stop saying all lives matter. This is redundant. We know all lives matter but we aren’t showing it. What we do not see is any importance devoted to black lives. We continue to see black men (and women and children) killed and we use their name for a few days, and wouldn’t you know it, another name takes their place in a tumultuous cycle of pain, fear, and intolerance the very next day or week. What we need to understand is that by saying this and believing in it, we are taking away from a movement called Black Lives Matter that is extremely necessary and important for us to share. Us being people of white skin. So maybe those who need to hear the importance of this movement will actually listen because white people are listened to. They have been for centuries. Supporting this movement does not make you anti-police or anti-government, it makes you pro humanity. If you think supporting this movement makes you anti-cop, refer to tip #2.

2. Quit watching the videos and posting about how it makes you feel. Your feelings don’t matter to those who have been murdered in front of their families and friends. Your feelings don’t matter to most of your “friends” on social media either. Instead, post about how people can help. We all feel helpless and angry and distraught and scared after watching an execution from the comfort of our own homes. So do your research. Post what can be done if you feel the need to post. Share references and books and organizations with your followers.

Start with these books:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/16-books-about-race-that-every-white-person-should-read_us_565f37e8e4b08e945fedaf49

http://www.bustle.com/articles/144531-18-books-every-white-ally-should-read

Plus Arc of Justice, especially if you are from Michigan, and The Warmth of Other Suns!

These articles:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/24/dear-white-america/?_r=0

http://www.tolerance.org/article/racism-and-white-privilege

and the organizations listed here: http://www.heartsandminds.org/links/racelinks.htm#Anti%20Defamation%20League

This podcast: There Goes the Neighborhood (start with episode 1)

This play: “A Raisin in the Sun

This video: What is Systemic Racism?

These resources should be a good starting point for research.

3. Join a movement. Vigils and protests are happening all over the nation, so if you want to be active, don’t say, “I wish I could help.” Go help. Show up. Bring treats. If there is not anything happening in your hometown, organize a discussion at the local church or school or community center. Picking up the phone and asking to use a space and calling a few representatives may take you a day or so of planning, but will open the eyes of many and provide an outlet that people in your community are longing for.

4. Help the children in your community. If we do not start there, this cycle will continue. Volunteer at the YMCA, be a camp counselor, serve food at a shelter or church, become a Big Bro Big Sis, visit a summer camp and drop off books, better yet, volunteer to read. The more we are able to reach our young community, the better our future will become.

5. Get involved politically. There are low key options as well as more committed positions if you look. First of all, be an informed voter. And turn up at every vote-not just the “big” ones. Keep in mind that we also vote by choosing where we spend our dollars. Spend locally. Then check out our mass incarceration rates. Compare those to our literacy rates. See the correlation? Our Geneseee County Corrections Facility does not have a library. If you find that hard to believe, contact me and help me create one there this year as part of my graduate thesis. Become an advocate for equality by sharing information on social media instead of spouting feelings or regurgitating someone else’s tweet that you favorited earlier in the day. Get ahold of your state rep and see where he/she stands in terms of public transportation, housing, education, gun reform, and funding of jails. Take an informed stand but then you must take action.

6. Shut your racist friends up. It’s not worth debating with people who have no ground to stand on.

7. Video any policing you see with an African American. Know you rights and how theirs differ from yours.

8. Educate your children, but not just about asking the cop to see the radar gun as my dad taught me. They should know their rights as a driver and a citizen. They should also know what to do in case they are pulled over and it is a diverse group of friends. My students of color have to act differently than my white students when pulled over. Think on this then educate your family. If you do not know what white privilege is, you are naive and have experienced it your entire life and you are lucky. Know what it is NOT and share with your children so they are aware and empathetic and activists.

9. Have the tough conversations with your friends of other races but do not look to them as experts-they have no answers for the atrocities our world is facing.

10. Most important, be an ally or an accomplice or associate for the black community. Remember, you’re white, so people will listen to you without pulling a gun first.

Sincerely,

Your concerned friend Carrie

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