Steps for Anti-Racist White People

Below are some notes and thoughts on next steps for white anti-racist organizing.  These notes are based on Ahjamu Umi‘s community education and organizing work.

  • cops take “path of least resistance” in enforcement and arrest, so we need to attack the social hierarchies that underly and lead to the targeting of black populations in addition to holding individual cops and the policing institutions accountable
    • “good cops” are not cops who simply do not personally participate in racist activity; they do not stand by passively or remain silent while the “bad cops” run amuck, but work to hold perpetrators accountable and change the racist system.  where are the truly good cops?
    • focus on the more fundamental issue of “public safety” instead of merely trying to reform the police system.  how does the police system help or hurt public safety?  what are the other ways in which we can achieve true public safety?
  • work close to home:  we need to leverage current relationships and develop new relationships to confront white supremacy through respectful dialog vs “othering” overt racists and disowning them to justify our own passivity (e.g,. “i don’t know any racists”)
    • e.g., talk w/friends and family first in calmer settings instead of just confronting strange white supremacists on the picket line when emotions are heated
    • e.g., northern white liberals need to talk with and activate other northern white liberals and understand their relationship to racism vs demonizing and othering “southern racist conservatives”
    • recognize that white supremacist leaders and ideologies tend to target and recruit working-class whites, especially struggling white men who seek someone or something convenient to blame.  Distinguish between the horizontal violence of working class people fighting each-other and the vertical violence of the white supremacist ideology of the ruling class (divide and conquer).  How do anti-racists deal with this effectively?
  • it’s important to “get right with yourself” to do this work effectively from a place of love instead of from simple fear, anger or “having something to prove”
  • keep educating yourself on social revolution: join or set up a study group, curriculum or other plan
    • revolution means mass political education
    • social revolution means challenging one-another to become better people
    • no pain, no gain:  just like any exercise program, stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone in order to learn and grow
    • Get active: turn off the TV and the passive mass media consumption and start reading and seeking and interacting
  • join and support existing organizations doing revolutionary work

    • many different organizations with different focuses is a good thing
    • coordinate within and between organizations to avoid duplicating work or spreading yourselves too thin
  • Break your dependency on and allegiance to slave-based institutions that continue to thrive today, such as
    • the chocolate industry, “When People Eat Chocolate, They Are Eating My Flesh”
    • the sugar industry
    • the coltan mining industry underlying all computing, electronics and telecommunications infrastructure today
    • the banking industry, which grew to prominence based on profits from the slave-based cotton industry
    • the insurance industry, one of the first industries to profit from and provide legal and economic facilitation of chattel slavery by reducing economic and legal risks associated with being a slave owner
    • Note the common thread above:  industry, aka consumer commodity culture.  This isn’t to say that, “(eating) chocolate is bad” or ” (having) insurance is bad,” but that their economic existence as for-profit global commodities depended (and still depends) on racism and slavery and other forms of oppression.  So we don’t seek the destruction of chocolate.  But we seek the destruction of the chocolate commodity industry, in part, to protect and respect the existence of chocolate itself.  What, you say?  Consider that Danish colonists directly and explicitly caused the extinction of several speices of clove trees to control production, limit competition for clove as a commodity and inflate clove prices (source: Amy Stewart, The Drunken Botanist).  Commodity culture filters everything through its profit value, supporting all atrocities that increase profits.  So we must find new ways of accessing goods and services important to our lives without participation in commodity culture, aka decommoditization.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but a starting point for people who want to participate in the liberation of society from racism and chattel slavery.  There are plenty of things, simple and intensive, that anyone can do to contribute to freedom and liberation for all.

Thanks also to Samantha and Caiti for their contributions.

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