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I wish every white person at one of these protests would commit to doing one-on-one relational work with other whites to deal with their racism

This frustrates me because I’m in a very “liberal” academic space and my white classmates are always having lil breakout groups to discuss allyship, meetings to talk about how they can support black and brown efforts and organizing

But they seem to have zero idea how to actually talk about racism to other white people who don’t already agree with them

I was talking to a classmate today who told me he “felt bad” because his parents and siblings voted trump

And I’m just like: what’s the fucking point of doing all this chatting about allyship if you can’t even sit down and reason with the people closest to you.

Why are you always looking to us for a free education on race when you just compartmentalize that shit or use the insights to get closer to other poc

I think I can add something here as a piece of advice on how to go about this:

I work with a mix of people who carry a wide array of political viewpoints. I work closely with a guy in his 60s who tends to lean Republican on most issues. 

One day, I was in a car with him and another colleague, around my age. The conversation diverted into entitlement spending and race. Us 20 somethings were on one side of the issues and a 60-year-old white guy was on the other. 

After hearing him rant for a bit, I calmly asked, “Hey ____, what’s so wrong with those living in the projects getting unemployment benefits?” I let him answer and then posed another question off of his response. I kept calm and kept letting him speak, then asking follow-up questions. Eventually, he was calm and I could tell he was satisfied that I heard his point and where he was coming from. I also noticed that his views became less and less extreme every time I posed a question. His emotions were subsiding and he was critically thinking about each question. So, I expressed my position of how certain people are exposed to certain opportunity and race plays a major role in exposure. I related to people we both knew. I related to stories of friends that he didn’t know. I asked him, again calmly, if that perspective changes anything. 

He kind of grumbled something and we arrived at our destination, ending the conversation.

However, the next day he came in and stated that he gave my position a lot of thought and felt like I brought up a lot of great points. He said was willing to think about these things. 

I was COMPLETELY taken aback. I realized that my conversation was effective. I honestly don’t know who he voted for or if there a major impact on his thinking, but something changed enough for him to thank me and bring up a willingness to change, albeit how small.

So I guess my advice would be the following:

1) Have people re-examine their own thinking. Don’t tell them how to think or haw you think. Ask them questions that have them explore their thought process.

2) Relate your position to shared experience. Put a face and a name to the marginalized group. Don’t let them go to the ‘well they’re the exception’ answer. Go back to 1) and ask them questions.

3) Stay calm. Like 100% be calm. Disarm their emotions and don’t escalate with your own. This gives them an opportunity to think rationally rather than emotionally. 

4) Don’t do it to feel good about yourself. Do it because it’s the right thing. If you are white/male/straight/cis, you need to do this for those who are not. Keep your thoughts on the marginalized and not making yourself feel good or ‘not like them’. This is not about you.

5) On the flip side, understand white poverty and what is going on in the manufacturing industry. Get the other viewpoint, even if you don’t think it’s worth empathizing with. Just understand that issue. Keep it in the back of your mind when asking questions.

I honestly don’t know if this will work in every circumstance or is enough. I feel like I made a change in someone’s way of thinking.  I thought it was worth sharing. 

Thank you for this.


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strix alba

February 2017

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