We are now a few weeks into the aftermath of the Baltimore riots spurned by the death of Freddie Gray. To my fellow white people still shaking their heads at the news in disgust of the destruction wreaked on Baltimore, I challenge you to redirect your disgust to the root causes of these riots. To start thinking about what part you play in ensuring that we do not continue to re-enact the story of Freddie Gray in cities and towns across America.
Whether or not it’s something you yet wish to accept or acknowledge, white people in this country carry privilege. And it is those of us who are shaking our heads, changing the channel, shaming the protesters and, essentially, doing nothing, that are the problem. White people’s indifference and judgment ensures that many more Trayvon Martins and Freddie Grays and Walter Scotts will die at the hands of police in hours, days, months and years to come.
As white folks, we are generally not taught nor given the resources to understand why our experiences with law enforcement and other authority figures seem to play out so differently than those experienced by people of color. We are not given proper or accurate information about most things pertaining to race. This lack of information and conversation is strategic, which I will get into at another time.
For now, I’d like to share some resources that have been and continue to be helpful for me on this journey:
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack by Peggy McIntosh
A national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice
ColorOfChange.org exists to strengthen Black America’s political voice. Our goal is to empower our members – Black Americans and our allies – to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone.
Focused on educators, this website and magazine provide free materials with the goal of “reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children.”