I know what you’re thinking during these days of civil unrest:
You want to show solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, but, you know, you don’t want to upset that racial justice applecart with all that white privilege you embody, right?
Well, thank God for the American Friends Service Committee! AFSC is described as a Quaker organization that "promotes lasting peace with justice as a practical expression of faith in action."
Anyway, the AFSC recently published a set of guidelines that instructs how white people should act at black-led movements.
The author is unnamed, but here is his/her background:
“I am a white person who recently participated in #millions march nyc as part of #BlackLivesMatter. As a queer, gender-queer person, I know about some forms of oppression, but I didn’t want my own unconscious racism, entitlement, and unexamined privilege to perpetuate the pathology and systems we were there to protest. So I came up with some guidelines for myself while participating in public demonstrations against racism and police violence. One thing I’m figuring out is that it is important for me as a white person showing up in support to engage in anti-racism work with other white people. Racism is a white person problem, not a Black person problem.”
In fact, there are nine rules in total when it comes to white people attending black movements. We don’t have the space to publish all nine, so here are the top five rules for white people attending black protests:
Remember that you are there as support and in solidarity—it’s not about you.
No matter how outraged or indignant you feel, a Black person will still have different feelings. Respect and be present to differences in emotion, experience, and politics. Consider that your role might be as a witness and support to others’ expressions rather than expressing your own feelings.
If you have a smartphone in your pocket, use it to lift up the voices of Black people involved in the struggle.
Post photos and videos of the action on social media, with permission. Do post publically-shared photos and words posted by Black activists that they have chosen to make public. You are allowed one selfie and that is it. Do not be the white person who fills their social media with self-congratulatory photos of themselves at the demonstration. Black people are not trophies.
Don't hijack the message.
Do not say, “All Lives Matter,” ever. The problem is that in our society, Black lives are valued less than white lives. Chanting “All Lives Matter” at a “Black Lives Matter” protest is like going to a funeral and telling the bereaved, “Hey, Everyone Dies!”
Don't lead chants.
Make room for the Black people around you to lead chants. Support them with your voice and rhythm. Pay attention to the impact of who and what you are supporting and doing. Some words are not yours to say.
Anticipate that reporters may seek you for a comment out of their own unconscious racial bias.
Before a demonstration begins, try to find out who are the designated media spokespeople. If a member of the press approaches you, here is your talking point: “I am here to support and offer solidarity to the Black community,” then direct them to a spokesperson. You have to accept that members of the Black community will be more informed and better able to talk about these issues than you.
So, to recap, if you are white and you find yourself at a BLM event, park your brain and your vocal chords; only speak when spoken to; and obey the instructions of those who have been blessed with a darker skin pigmentation.
In other words, get to the back of the ideological bus, capeesh?
Gee, so much for that white privilege thing, eh?