"An Open Letter" by Katherine Breeher
Dear white People,
Black Lives Matter is not a political statement. It’s about basic human rights. If somebody declaring that their life simply matters offends you in any way, you should analyze the roots of what that really means.
Your comfort is far from a priority. White fragility and white privilege prolong racial issues and distract from any real progress being made. Know what white privilege means. It does not mean your life has never been difficult, that you’ve never had to face challenges, or that you’ve never dealt with adversity. It simply means you’ve never had to face difficulties due to the color of your skin. That’s it. So don’t start listing off your personal issues when someone confronts you with the phrase “white privilege”. I can guarantee you that none of those problems were caused by systemic racism.
Your ability to shut this out is a privilege. Recognize that. Before you say, “I don’t want my children learning about racism” or “I don’t want my children seeing such violent videos or images”, think of the BIPOC children who don’t have the privilege to ‘learn’ about racism in school- they experience it and they witness it every day. Racism has always surrounded you. It is ingrained into every system and institution in this country. If you think you never saw racism growing up, you either lived in a homogenized place or didn’t know how to recognize it. If it took you until adulthood to realize these problems existed so prevalent in our country, you are privileged. White fragility is what happens when you center yourself in an issue simply because you feel offended. Conversations about race are not a direct attack on you. They say silence is violence, and it is. But you should also know when to close your mouth and open your ears. Listening is so beneficial.
White guilt is useless. Your apologies are usually unproductive unless to the person affected directly. Stop apologizing. Stop talking over others to voice your own misery or guilt. Your guilt is not productive. It helps nobody. Avoid white guilt by using white privilege for good. Educate other white people as you have educated yourself. Those resistant to listening to BIPOC voices will likely be more willing to listen to another white person first. Take advantage of this. Inform your white family and neighbors about the racial issues in your own community. And remember that allyship is a verb, not a noun. A good ally is one who never stops working, one who doesn’t just pay attention when “#BLM” is trending on Twitter.
Performative activism is gross. If you’re going to a demonstration to take pictures for social media, you’re just as bad as everyone else who panders to BIPOC. You shouldn’t be posting pictures of demonstrations on social media anyways (at least, not
without blacking out all visible faces in the photo). Protect those who were protesting beside you and don’t reveal their identities. Protect those who are protesting with you by forming a line or wall of white people between the BIPOC present and police officers. They will hesitate before macing you, they won’t hesitate before macing anyone else.
The term ‘minority’ used for BIPOC is misleading. They are not a numerical minority. White people are defined as the majority because they have the majority of political and economic power. It's not about numbers, it's about power. One is not free until we are all free. It is not enough to stop after the charges are raised. It will probably never be enough.
Yes, it's exhausting. It feels neverending. The powers at be make you think it’s impossible. They tell you that protesting does not work. They say that because it does. They say this because they are afraid. If the masses organized, they wouldn’t stand a chance. This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats or light skin people and dark skin people. They plant these falsehoods and poke them until they fester. To create the illusion that we are all divided. This is because if we unified, they wouldn’t stand a chance.
a white ally