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A Syllabus for White People: Taking Action Against Racism

Racism is systemic and etched into the foundation of America. It is up to us to recognize it, call it out, and dismantle it everyday. We must start by facing the fact that white supremacy is and has been magnified by our current administration, so I've created this syllabus or resource guide to help white people become better allies, activists, and actionable human beings who educate themselves on the reality of oppression and systemic racism in America. Often times, it's more likely for many white people to feel intimidated by racial tension and therefore stay silent, but your silence is a perpetuation of that tension. Many white people who claim to be protesting Charlottesville are also participating in slacktivism, claiming to have "good intentions" without questioning their unconscious biases, using spiritual bypass and chanting about love to dismiss the anger of POC (which is incredibly invalidating and disrepsectful, by the way), avoiding uncomfortable conversations, not checking their white fragility at the door, taking up space with their whiteness and not passing the mic to POC (people of color) during protests, performing the white savior narrative, and expecting POC to educate them on how to fight racism. Witnessing this is becoming frustrating, unethical, and problematic for many; it's incredibly important that we keep ourselves in check and hold ourself accountable. People of color should not be expected to educate white people as to their humanity and fighting racism. Let me repeat that one more time, people of color should not be expected to educate white people as to their humanity and fighting racism. Most importantly, POC should never be put in a position to hold white people accountable for dismantling systemic racism; it's our responsibility and undoing. 

White people benefit from racism and white supremacy, therefore if we uphold it, it’s our responsibility to rupture its foundation. What happened in Charlottesville is not over, in fact, it's deeper than that. It's everywhere, deeply ingrained in institutions, systems of power, and even our DNA. Those white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, KKK and bigoted men (and women) marching with tiki torches, eventually went home where they went back to being police officers, jurors, teachers, senators, friendly neighbors, bankers, landlords, doctors, and community board members. Thus, we have a duty to intercept the way Charlottesville depicts the foundation of communities across America; you have a duty to speak up, speak out, and take action. Marge Jacobson recently posted a profound quote on her Instagram, "white silence is white privilege is white supremacy," and it hit me hard because it was uncomfortable and true. Many people around have made statements about "staying out of politics," or being "traumatized by recent events." This is not to say that white people can't be traumatized by what happened in Charlottesville, but it becomes incredibly problematic and privileged, when feeling traumatized leads to the option of staying out of politics. People of color don't have that option because they're the ones being targeted in a system that is our responsibility to take down. Despite any level of white traumatization, people of color are experiencing much deeper traumatization, personally, interpersonally, and through hundreds of years of generational trauma and oppression. Right now, it's not about us and we're used to it being about us all the time, see how privilege works? Now, part of being a good ally, activist, and human being is taking care of yourself, which is why you cannot fight for the welfare of others if you don't take care of yourself. However, there's a fine line between self-care and avoidance. Staying out of politics is automatically entering into a state of privilege. If we don’t fight, resist, dismantle, then how much of our safety is really at stake, while others are fighting for their lives? Is that fair? Do you see how that's directly benefiting from white supremacy? No matter how good our intentions are, there's always more unlearning, questioning, and challenging our ability to perpetuate inequality. This is not just "politics," it's people's lives and the future of our children, society, and generations to come. 

I hope that this syllabus provides you with the resources and accountability you've been looking for. My intention hasn't been to shame you, but to provide a space of tough love and awareness to hold myself and others accountable. This is your problem, my problem, our problem, and we have a duty to this nation, to our non-white friends, families, children, co-workers, community members, and people of this nation. Our history of racial trauma doesn’t disappear until we own our unconscious biases because every one of us, no matter how “woke,” has lifetimes of unlearning to do. This shit is in our DNA and we've all been born from colonization, and we must question that origin every day, whether at home, work, church, school, or other community spaces.

I want you to remember that everyone makes mistakes, it's how we learn, but if we want to dismantle a system that dehumanizes people based on their race, religion, and identity, then we must risk discomfort. We must risk fear and safety. We must ask questions that we fear sound ignorant, in order to challenge our belief systems. We must talk less and listen more. We must hold space for people of color. We must resist. Tayloredpoet, from St. Louis, wrote it best, white people must "provide a barrier, a protective line for people of color to sing, chant, and march without fear of imprisonment, beatings and backlash. Allow our voices to cry out without taking over. Allow us to reclaim our time."

Below you will find sections for various resources on taking radical action against racism:

racism scale.jpg

Taking Action:

Call your representatives and hold them accountable! Visit Common Cause to find your elected officials: Click here

Witnessing Whiteness Program & Workshop Series | Click Here

Witnessing Whiteness: Discussion Group Guide | Click Here

Become a Legal Observer | Click Here

Legal Observer Training Manuel | Click Here 

Stand Against Racism Events (national search engine) | Click Here


Becoming An Anti-Racist Ally:

Examining Whiteness: An Anti-Racist Curriculum | Click Here

11 Things White People Can Do to Be Real Anti-Racist Allies | Click Here

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh | Click Here

Black Lives Matter Syllabus | Click Here


Holding Yourself + Others Accountable:

+ Attend protests / demonstations

+ Volunteer in your community 

+ Search local activist Facebook groups in your community

+ Organize street level resiliency trainings

+ Don't be afraid to ask questions that make you feel ignorant, it's better to know where you're experiencing cognitive dissonance than perpetuating unconscious bias and oppression

+ Avoid intellectualizing racism

+ Avoid being a white savior; POC don't need you to save them

+ Listen to POC (people of color) and hold space; pass the mic 

+ Ask your non-white friends how you can support them 

+ See a therapist, if you need to work through personal trauma that effects your belief systems 

+ Start a book club and discussion group

+ Offer pro bono services if you're a therapist, social worker, yoga teacher, lawyer, etc,.

+ Offer your home, office, or yoga studio as a community/safe space for POC to come together

+ Offer free workshops to educate others about anti-racism

+ Provide a donation based social justice book drive in your community

+ Call out racism when you see it, don't be silent

+ Step outside of your white bubble and engage with POC in your community

+ If all your friends are white, ask yourself why? How can you truly educate yourself, embrace humanity, and be an ally if you don't have any friends that are non-white?

+ Challenge people's views, especially if you have racist family members 

+ Practice self-care; taking care of yourself is crucial when engaging in social justice 

+ Talk about race, have uncomfortable conversations with friends, family, strangers, and your kids

+ Follow social media accounts and platforms that advocate for human rights, anti-racism, social justice, anti-fascism, and radical self-care

+ Follow social media accounts by POC, LGBTQ, and other minorities

A bystander's guide to fight harassment: 


Non-Fiction (many available on audiobooks):

Policing the Black Man | Angela J. Davis

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? | Mumia Abu-Jamal

Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock in White Advantage | Daria Roithmayr

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism | Edward E. Baptist

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America | Richard Rothstein

Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class | Ian Haney Lopez

The Making of Black Lives Matter | Monique W. Morris

We Too Sing America | Deepa Iyer

When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America | Ira Katznelson

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of The United States | Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Democracy In Black: How Race Still Enslaves The American Soul | Eddie S. Glaude Jr. 

Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire | Deepa Kumar

Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation | By Rev. angel Kyodo Williams

A People’s History of the United States | Howard Zinn

Punished | Victor Rios

The Struggle Within: Prisons, Political Prisoners, And Mass Movements In The United States | By Dan Berger 

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race | By Beverly Daniel Tatum

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement Paperback | By Angela Y. Davis 

No One Is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence at the U.S. / Mexico Border | Justin Akers Chacon

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide | Carol Anderson

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness | by Michelle Alexander 

The New Jim Crow Study Guide and Call to Action | By Veterans Of Hope

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation | By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor 

Freedom is a Constant Struggle | Angela Davis

 


Children's Books:

Let's Talk About Race | Julius Lester 

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation | Duncan Tonatiuh

Brown Girl Dreaming | Jacqueline Woodson 

The Other Side | Jacqueline Woodson 

Henry's Freedom Box | Ellen Levine

Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? | Bonnie Bader


Trauma-Informed Educational + Teaching Resources: 

Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice | By Geneva Gay 

Reaching & Teaching Children Exposed to Trauma | By Barbara Sorrels 

Trauma in the Classroom: Uncovering the Truth About Childhood Adversity | By Stacey Sly

The Trauma-Informed School: A Step-by-Step Implementation Guide for Administrators and School | By Jim Sporleder and Heather T. Forbes 

So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in Urban Schools | By Charles M. Payne 

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood...and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education Paperback | By Christopher Emdin

 


Documentaries:

Charlottesville: Race and Terror | Click Here

13th

I Am Not Your Negro

Whose Streets? We Will Not Go Quietly

Dark Girls

Requiem For The American Dream

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Ethnic Notions


Podcasts: 

About Race with Baratunde Thurston, Raquel Cepeda, and Tanner Colby

On Being with Krista Tippett | Eula Biss Episode "Lets Talk About Whiteness"

Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom

We Want the Airwaves with Nia King

The Read with Kid Fury + Crissle

Ear Hustle with Earlonne Woods + Antwan Williams + Nigel Poor

2 Dope Queens with Phoebe Robinson + Jessica Williams

Another Round with Heben Nigatu + Tracy Clayton

Intersection with Jamil Smith

Pod Save The People with DeRay Mckesson


Articles: 

Introducing a 25-part series on how to reduce police brutality by Shaun King | Click Here 

AFTERMATH: SIXTEEN WRITERS ON TRUMP’S AMERICA: Essays by Toni Morrison, Atul Gawande, Hilary Mantel, George Packer, Jane Mayer, Jeffrey Toobin, Junot Díaz, and more. | Click Here

Black Lives Matter Is Not a Hate Group By J. Richard Cohen | Click Here

These 2 Charts Explain How Racism Helped Fuel Trump’s Victory by Zack Beauchamp | Click Here

I Need to Talk to Spiritual White Women About White Supremacy by Layla Saad | Click Here

Making America White Again by Toni Morrison | Click Here


Organizations: 

YWCA: Stand Against Racism

ACLU

Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

Southern Poverty Law Center

Black Lives Matter

Native American Rights Fund

The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative

National Immigration Law Center

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Anti-Defamation League

Council on American-Islamic Relations

Campaign Zero

Border Angels

American Civil Liberties Union

Integrate Trauma-Informed Network


Dear reader,

If you have resources you believe should be added to this document, please email me via my website or hello.modernhealer@gmail.com

Thank you,

Victoria

Victoria Emanuela