My Facebook feed and my own posts are full of outrage at what occurred in Charlottesville and how Trump has revealed himself to be an apologist and enabler of white terrorism. In the wake of Charlottesville, many of my white friends are calling on white people to declare where we stand in relation to white supremacy; to decide which side of history we are on.
I believe that our declarations are important, even essential. But I don’t believe they are enough. Those of us who are white have some serious, soul-stretching, arduous work to do, every day again, in the neighborhoods, family systems, friendship networks, organizations, and institutions with which we are affiliated. To step up and challenge racism and white supremacy in all its forms – personal, interpersonal, cultural, and systemic – requires a willingness to dive deep, learn more everyday, seek out support and accountability, and then act in collaboration with others to effect change.
That change won’t happen overnight. There will be countless setbacks and defeats. To be an agent of change will require painstaking analysis, revolutionary patience, radical self-scrutiny, and never-ending effort. It will require becoming engaged in coalitions and organizations led by people of color, respecting the priorities they identify, and sustaining our engagement over time. It will require the courage to engage with – not flee from – white people who do not share our values, viewpoints, and worldview. It will also require the humility to remember our own histories of moral failure, change, and growth; to remember that there were people who loved us enough not to give up on us or write us out of the book of life when we screwed up, made mistakes, revealed our ignorance, and committed egregious acts of racist complicity. It will require that we are as clear about what we are fighting for as what we are fighting against. And it will require that we seek out racially diverse, truth-telling friendships and circles of support where we can mourn the losses and celebrate even the smallest breakthroughs.
© 2017 Melanie S. Morrison – All rights reserved.