When White Friends Use Their Privilege To Fight Racism

Charlottesville, we are angry for you, heartbroken, crying in private and open spaces and in need of peace. Today I was silent, an angry silent. I turned off radios and televisions and cried. Then sparks of hope came from so many of my white friends who took to social media to display their disgust with what has happened. White friends who care made pleas to their families, coworkers and the general public to acknowledge that everything about this is WRONG.

One of those was Detroit educator Carole Hoste. She posted these words on Facebook in response to this madness and her plea is so needed. As an educator and lover of people, Carole, I hope your words prompt more people to speak out and hearts to change.

Hey cousins –
(Aka, fellow white folks)
If you’re posting outrage about Charlottesville, you need to first check your own house. You might not personally know anyone carrying a torch in Charlottesville, but I guarantee you have people in your life (because I know I do) who believe it’s funny to drop the N word in a joke amongst friends, think all the victims of police brutality had it coming to them even when video shows us otherwise, double checks their car door locks when driving through a black neighborhood, believes racism is just a card played by minorities when it suits them, and that any adverse racially fueled situations could be avoided “if only *they* didn’t _______.”, and denies any prejudice because, well, they chat it up every day at the water cooler with that one brown co-worker of theirs who is so well spoken.

For every person with a torch in Charlottesville there’s a wife who sent them off and welcomed them home, kids being indoctrinated by the example, neighbors who stand in support but just aren’t quite bold enough to tag along to the rally, and a country full of others fill out cheering on who would be there themselves if only they lived in closer proximity. These people walk past us daily, hold positions in our community. They don’t carry the swastika and confederate flags in daily life, but they have other tells we can’t ignore for sake of not stirring the pot of our personal lives.

It’s the much, much larger lower base that is giving the upper level extremists their fuel. They know they have the support, even if most of those behind them are to chicken to show their face at a rally or even admit they voted for Trump.  Silence is at the bottom of the pyramid, holding up the entire structure. It’s hard. No one wants conflict with loved ones, but the alternative is the conflict in Charlottesville. Fight at the level no one is going to die at, first.

Carole Hoste, thank you and know that your words touched me today.


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