My “Drop” On Anti-Racism and Starting Your Anti-Racism Journey
Disclaimer & Trigger Warning: Harsh language included. This article is for white and white-passing people, wanting to take action and may or may not be doing their anti-racism work, or aren’t sure where to start. Hopefully by the time you finish this, you will learn something, but more importantly, you will DO something. If you only have a few minutes, scroll to the bottom for resources to start your own work. Black or Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) are welcome, but some content may be triggering, so take care.
There is this phrase in Spanish that goes “La gota que derramó el vaso.” Where I live, this is the local version of “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” and translated, it means “the drop that spilled the glass.” George Floyd and “that Cooper woman” were the last two drops that spilled my glass and forced me to bring my own anti-racism work to a more public space.
As a white, LatinX, Cis-woman, I have been doing my own anti-racism work for a few years now. Part of that process is identifying and undoing all the things I‘ve learned over the years. Early on, I really struggled with all the “white-guilt,” “white woman tears,” and being one of those “love and light,” people, under the guise of “good intentions.” It has been a hard and painful personal journey, but whenever I feel overwhelmed about how much I can change or contribute, I remind myself of this simple truth: I’m not walking in this world with years of generational trauma in my cells, merely because of the color of my skin. In other words, STFU and keep going.
the thing you are most afraid to write.
— Nayirrah Waheed
When I thought about what I may be able to do more publicly, I quickly turned to my writing. I wanted to stand in solidarity with others on the front lines, even if my front line was virtual. I have struggled to write this piece because of so many things. Initially, I was so angry and full of rage, all I could think was to spew vitriol about our politicians, capitalism and further the hate. Then I thought, “what will my friends and family think?” “What will my employer think?” After much mental back and forth, I realized that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought, because the only thing that mattered is what I think. Can I continue to take comfort in my solitary work, or do I join the unified voice saying enough is enough? Lately, my thoughts have been more consumed with “am I doing enough,” or “will anything I do make a difference?”
To channel Justin Simien; “Dear White People,” it’s time to wake up and do your work. I’m not going to lie, this stuff is really hard, painful, ugly, and constantly requires us to step out of our ego and put aside all the “not all white people,” or “but I have black friends.” If that is where you start, you are part of the problem. I can promise you that you WILL feel shame. You WILL feel guilt. You WILL be embarrassed and you will likely want to quit and stop, because it is hard, but don’t. Don’t stop, keep going and tell your ego to take a nap, because you have some real growth to do.
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love…
— Nelson Mandela
As I started my anti-racism journey a couple years ago, I struggled with all these things. I also learned that we are not born racist, but we learn it from a very early age, and that helped me deal with my own shame and guilt. I found comfort because like other forms of healing, I could unlearn my racism, but it would take a lot of work and be something I would never “finish.” It would become my other life long education.
The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And that’s the only way forward.
— Ijeoma Oluo
So what can you do? Well, if you are feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start, that’s a good place to start. Recognizing and accepting that we unknowingly learned these things and have the power to change them, is a perfect place to start. This is when we say “admitting you have a problem, is the first step,” and if you disagree, you probably aren’t ready for the work, which makes you part of the problem. Once you commit to change, you can start taking action to make this world a better place and use your privilege for change. I have a friend who said something really beautiful the other day. He said “Do a right thing. Then do another right thing,” in regards to a strategy of where to start, in the fight against racial injustice. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you think about undoing 400+ years of systemic racial injustice, and it’s easy to get caught up in the “I can’t really make a difference,” line of thinking and give up, but now is not the time to give up or not start.
There are so many resources out there and if you spend 5 minutes, you can find myriad things, but I am going to share a few here. I also want to note that while I’m sharing things that have worked for me, the teachers in anti-racism are BIPOC and not other white people. This is a critical point that cannot be overlooked and the best teachers are those that live and breathe this experience everyday, so please pay them accordingly and ensure your money is moving in the right direction. Feel free to recommend other worthy causes, to contribute to the dismantling of white supremacy in the United States, and anywhere else in the world.
For the Book Worms
I am sharing Sassy Latte’s list, because it is a great place to start. They are a non-binary, body positive, queer, black, activist that drops tons of knowledge on Instagram and has a Patreon account, to which you can subscribe. Also, their makeup is FIERCE and I am inspired by them constantly. If you want to purchase some books, please use their links because they get a little kickback, rather than searching on Amazon or even better, purchase from a black-owned bookstore, like Mahogany Books, the Multicultural Bookstore, or Source of Knowledge.
Read Layla Saad’s book “Me And White Supremacy.” This is part book, part workbook and all life changer. Again, please use the links I am providing, so she will get the credit for all the sales. I am not using any affiliate links, so all creators get all their due credit.
If you like poetry, you MUST read Nayirrah Waheed’s Salt. Nejma is also a brilliant piece of literature, but I really felt connected to Salt. She dives into so many topics, but she covers a lot on racism, self care, love and family. It is truly beautiful and I have read it multiple times. I tried more than 15 BIPOC owned bookstores and could not find a link to buy there, so I have provided the Amazon link from Ms. Waheed’s IG page. If you know of a BIPOC owned bookstore that I can link to here, let me know so I can update my post.
Rachel Elizabeth Cargle also has a brilliantly curated list of books here and here. She is an academic, activist and amazing human. I also link to her non-profit below, if you also want to make a donation. You can also join her Great Unlearn Community, on Patreon which is all about unlearning America’s birth story and truly understanding more of history.
For the Fashionistas
If fashion is your thing, then you have to check out Aja Barber. If you like fashion, if you fancy yourself sustainable and you want to undo white supremacy and unfair practices through the things you wear on your body, then check out Aja and her Patreon account. Also, if you don’t think fashion is political, prepare to be educated. Besides being an expert in her field, she is a kickass human and every time I talk to her, her voice makes me feel wrapped in a hug.
Looking for a way to put your money where your mouth is? Check out BuyFromBIPOC on Instagram. #buyfrombipoc is “a celebration of BIPOC makers and creatives with a focus on slow, ethical, & sustainable fashion.” Not only do they share some kickass fashion from BIPOC creators, they have a constant stream of education across the intersection of sustainability, anti-racism and fashion.
Dr. Kristian H founded a remarkable company called Blk & Grn, which is all black creators, creating all green products. This goes beyond fashion, but is still such a really important space because beauty is also fraught with layers and layers of patriarchy, capitalism and racism. This org directly combats that through the marketplace they have created that honors black creators. “At BLK + GRN, our all Black artisans are carefully chosen by Black health experts who know what an all-natural product truly looks like. We’ve seen firsthand the damaging effects harmful ingredients and practices have had on our community. Our marketplace connects Black people with natural lifestyles to high-quality, toxic-free brands that share in our mission of health, wellness and community cultivation. We promise to maintain that connection by curating, crafting and consuming consciously for you.”
For the Streamers
Trevor Noah did an episode of the Daily Social Distancing Show that discussed George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and the recent protests and looting. It is so good and I really believe everyone needs to watch it. Especially, our racist family members (you know who they are).
Check out the Science of Racism | Creators For Change, by ASAPScience. It is a bit older, but a brief, powerful and incredibly educational video, providing a broader primer on racism and some things you may not already, but need to know, now.
For the List Fanatics
Rachel Rickets is another badass activist and pulls no punches. She is a healer in all instantiations of the word and offers affordable workshops, in addition to being a wealth of knowledge and information. She has a ton of resources you can find here and has already done a ton of emotional labor and heavy lifting for us.
Brittany Packnett Cunningham is a brilliant activist and a wealth of knowledge, power and heart. She created a comprehensive set of anti-racism resources you can find here, covering everything from Podcasts for listening, books and articles for reading and orgs for following. Her content is killer and intensely educational.
Check out “75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice,” by Corinne Shutack. While not a BIPOC, this is a comprehensive list of ideas and ways that you can do your part to fight racism and dismantle white supremacy.
For the Check Writers
There are so many worthy organizations out there and here are just a few that are some of my favorites. While money is always appreciated, I hope you will also find a way to couple the deeper work and continue to grow and learn in this space, rather than just sending money. The real change begins within.
The Loveland Foundation — Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. Our resources and initiatives are collaborative and they prioritize opportunity, access, validation, and healing.
Black Lives Matter — #BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.
Allen Salway, more commonly known as LilNativeBoy on Instagram did another incredible list of organizations that need your help. You can choose from so many important organizations to help BIPOC and you can find it here.
Please remember to pay and promote any of the people here as every single post and article they share is true emotional labor and a pure demonstration of love. Don’t take their kindness and knowledge sharing for granted and do not ask them questions you can easily find via Google. Please be respectful and honor the space they have graciously shared with us (white and passing white people), to learn and be better. It’s our turn to listen.
If you have managed to get this far, thank you so much for your time, energy and eyeballs. This is only a tiny drop in an ocean of work required to undo hundreds of years of oppression, but I consider this one of my tiny drops. I get this stuff wrong all the time and am so grateful to the PoC in my life that thought enough of me to call me on my shit, and invested emotional labor in me, so I could be a better human. I’m grateful to every person listed in these resources because they have been huge sources of inspiration and guidance for me, on my own personal anti-racism journey. You are going to fuck this up. A LOT! Believe me, I know from experience, but don’t let it get you down. Acknowledge and learn from your mistakes, apologize and keep going. Do better next time and don’t give up. Find other white people on a similar journey, to support you on yours, so you don’t feel compelled to ask BIPOCs for emotional labor. This is important because otherwise, you have just found another way of oppressing.
It may feel small at first, but each action is a drop and with many drops, we can spill the glass and turn the tide of racism in the US, and the world over. I hope you will help. I believe in you and I believe in all of us. Add your drop and collectively, we can accumulate an ocean of change.