• Rajah E. Smart, Ed.D.

I’m White, What Can I Do?

What can white folks do? WAKE THE FUCK UP--


I received a call from my former supervisor last night regarding the onslaught of stupidity from white folks currently upon us as a result of the killing of yet another black man, George Floyd. It’s another example of how this country contradicts its belief in us as a nation, the religion this country panders, and the obvious prejudice and racism that goes ignored. She apologized for her people's actions, which I respected. She discussed some things she’s doing with her team to promote awareness. I have nothing but respect for that. What’s interesting is what came from the conversation. What are some things we can do as white people? Here are some examples that white folks could consider.


Stop defending the one or two cops you know


Avoid defending the police organization to black people and understand the context of our disdain for the police. Simply because you know a cop that may be good doesn’t mean that it needs to be a defense to a black culture that has experienced decades of inequity, discrimination, and death at the hands of cops. As an organizational culture, police have been a continuous stain on our community. As many times as I have been pulled over and harassed for literally doing nothing, do you think I give a damn that your brother in law is a goods cop? White folks go on the defense and then blame us as the victim for being shot, beaten, harassed, and more. When did driving up the street in a nice car become a crime?


Stop defending the one or two cops you know and start understanding the undercurrent of the organization that suppresses people of color. You think a mother or father that just lost their child gives a damn that you know a good cop. Hell, I know a good cop, but that one cop is not the sum of my experience. Meanwhile, I was pulled over not a few days ago, and the longer I sit on the road, the more in danger I become. For those who still don’t know, that’s called DWB or driving while black. Of course, I could be walking, standing, eating, swimming, or simply breathing, and that can be an issue as well. I think Bruce Springsteen’s 41 Shots paints a good picture. I remember my wife got a big dose of it when I was pulled over in my driveway for literally nothing. As I’m getting out of the car, the cop pulls up behind, jumps out with his hand on his gun and yells for me to get back inside my car. She’s yelling at him, and I have my hands in the air refusing to move. Why? One move that scares him would put me on my back. The purpose of being pulled over is my muffler was loud. So, in a tense experience, I could have been shot over a muffler. Do you still want to tell me about your sister’s husband, who is a damn good cop?


Stop being ignorant


I’m unsure how you can have people of color in your life and remain ignorant of the fact that this country is a challenge for people of color. You want to know why Colin Kaepernick kneeled. Well, there you have it, and folks want to make it about being patriotic. We [black people] are “AMERICAN” but don’t have the same opportunity to be just that. Another black man choked out, and the first question is, what did he do? A kid shot in Chicago for having a knife, but lunging at them from damn near 20 feet away is clear. A kid shot 41 times in New York, and a kid shot for merely being on his porch coming home from practice are just a couple more examples. How do you hide your head in the sand and tell a person of color that you love them? If that’s the case, get your head out the sand and love the sum total of that person's experience. Stand with them and support them as walking out the door may be the last. Or, they could simply be shot for sitting at home and minding their black ass business. It gets tiring to meet white folks that have no idea, and you have to explain, which does nothing because they return to isolation. As I watch these fools in Michigan march on the capital with their guns and confederate flags because they feel like their liberties were taken away, where were these folks during the Flint Water Crisis. Isn’t water liberty? Some of these white folks march because the governor seeks to control a pandemic. When white folks feel like someone is taking their freedom, they lose their damn minds. Hell, we just trying to enjoy some of that freedom as well without the police being called.


Meanwhile, we march for fair treatment, and police are in riot gear, and we aren’t carrying guns. Must be nice to be white and not care about anything but maintaining ignorance. How is it possible to love someone of color when you are unable to accept that they are being mistreated? You remain ignorant or in your bubble because, as an educated black man, I’m treated no better. Being ignorant makes you no better--


Model


Model the behavior you want to see in this country. If you don’t want your kids to be the same way, expose them to the differences early. Don’t shield them from the real society. Talk to them. Some white folks will never understand the concept of the talk. The talk is what black children receive from their parents about being black in this country. If an officer pulls you over, do these things. If you are traveling across the country, do these things. If a white woman or man approaches you, do these things. It is a race-based conversation for protection. To stop these things, our children must know, and that starts by modeling. Model the disdain for inequity, discrimination, and prejudice. How can you teach your kids if you legit have no friends of color? How can you expect children to not have those beliefs when there is no discussion about prejudice? The component that supports the effort is then allowing your children to coexist in a diverse environment. That doesn’t mean put them in an urban school. It merely means exposing them to various people of color and enforcing the value of diversity. I was prepared to enter the white world but white folks I meet now are not prepared to enter a diverse world. And, they have the option to return to their little bubble and not bother. That is a part of the problem.


Take Action and Get Informed


Use your privilege! It doesn’t hurt to get involved. Marches and whatnot are cool, but they don’t have a lasting impact. You will hear black folks say to support black businesses. That is great; however, in some areas, black businesses are not thriving. Show me black grocery stores and other essential things I need, and I’ll shop there. We must shop for companies that have a record of supporting diversity and initiatives that support all people. Avoid supporting companies that have a track record of supporting those that are against promoting unity, equity, and fairness. Don’t vote for someone because they represent a party. Vote because they represent the greater good of society. When someone in your circle begins discussing people of color in an ignorant manner, correct them. Stand for all people and correct people that promote stereotypes. Have the needed conversations and call people on the rug for being ignorant.


Educate and inform your family by reading literature or discovering how the Critical Race Theory helps show how prejudice and racism has been interweaved into society. Learn about how the Black Panthers were not radicals but people who were supporting their communities and protecting against the police. Learn how their program inspired the federal program we know today as WIC. Understand that black people have a national anthem that is not the Star-Spangled Banner, which originally had racial overtones, but we are expected to stand for and be proud. We are to be proud that our people are being decimated by policies created in the best interest of white people. Learn our history that is being removed from history books to promote the white agenda. Understand the Tuskeegee Experiments as one of many times the government failed us and used us. If you think this to be untrue, examine the recent issue with the Social Studies Standards that were being adopted in Michigan. It was a total whitewash of black history and more.


Conclusion


Just because you may be friends with a person of color does not mean you are awakened. It simply means you know one. No more no less—


Just because you fuck a person of color, it doesn’t mean you’re awakened. It simply means you had sex. What comes with awakening is the defense of what’s right, championing against the nonsense we see daily from white folks that perpetuate prejudice and racism. A good example is the precedent of the United States. This trash is just that and people rally behind this fool, which makes them no better. How can a person support that and be with someone that supports his brand? Anyone in my circle that voted for this clown is gone. Awakening is understanding why CK kneeled and understanding the history behind what got us to that point. If you don’t get enlightened, you are a part of the problem. I can play in the NFL if I beat my wife or kill someone, but you better not kneel in protest for the ongoing police killings of black people, particularly children.


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