One of the most frequently asked questions in 101 type discussions is: “What can I do?” Granted, the focus of that question ranges from “how can I integrate my friend-circle?” to “how do I combat passive racism?” to “how do I have conversations that deal with race?” but they all have the same general elements. Here are a few links that might help you on your way.
The best simple guide to concrete action I’ve seen so far is Damali Ayo’s “I can fix it!” pamphlet. (warning: PDF)
She asked 2000 people to give 5 simple things people could do to end racism, and pulled them together into a handy-dandy guide. The short version:
1. Admit It.
3. Educate Yourself.
4. Broaden Your Experience.
5. Take Action.
Read the whole thing for the details.
For an angrier (but possibly more detailed) guide to things one might not want to say/do in a conversation about race, try my How not to be an asshole: a guide for white people/feminists. (based on Chris Clarke’s memorable How not to be an asshole: a guide for men).
And for the definitive guide to Things Not To Do, see the classic: How to Suppress Discussions of Racism.
If you’re looking specifically for advice on how to act in minority spaces, try Tekanji’s “A Deeper Look at ‘Minority Spaces’”. Her rules and analyses are excellent starters.
I know it looks like I’m mixing up two categories – “how do I talk about race?” (or “how is it appropriate to act in racial discussions?”) and “what can I do to combat racism?” – but they’re not really all that far apart.
Whether you’re trying to feel your way through a difficult conversation or deal with a racist situation in your daily life, the important things are to slow down and listen, situate yourself, and speak up when you see something bad happen. There are details and nuances (and you’ll get a good glimpse at them if you follow the links above), but those three things should get you through most conversations and situations just fine.
- The White Racist Meme by Jeremy September 22, 2009
- Posted Without Comment by Jill March 28, 2006
- Submit to the WOC and Ally Blog Carnival! by Cara February 23, 2009
- This Is Where White Guilt Comes From by Jeremy September 21, 2009
- Race Relations 101 – Let’s start with hair. by Magniloquence August 16, 2007