I debated whether to post anything about the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., and finally decided I had to. Not because I’m an expert or I can pretend to understand everything that is going on. Far from it. I’m a young middle class white woman. My privilege protects me from the physical and psychological violence that has been directed at black communities since the beginning of this country. So when a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, I listened. My heart was heavy, but this wasn’t a moment for white people to rush in and make sweeping judgments about black communities. Of course, that’s exactly what happened.
So the purpose of this post is to implore fellow white people to avoid making any kind of bold statement or judgment and instead to LISTEN.
Chances are, you don’t know many, if any, black people. Research shows that most white people’s networks are incredibly white. And that shows when you say things like “I don’t think racism is a problem anymore,” “we should be colorblind,” “it’s racist to talk about racism,” etc.
So listen to the people on the ground in Ferguson.
Listen to the people for whom this violence is commonplace.
Listen to the parents who are losing their children for no reason.
Listen to the young people who risk their lives every day simply by existing.
Racism hasn’t gone away just because we elected a black president. Far from it. Racism has been, and will continue to be, a fact of life for millions of people. So start reading the stories below to understand even a fraction of what is going on in Ferguson and black communities around the country.
Yeah, it’s a lot of reading—and that’s just the beginning. We have a lot of catching up to do.
Self-Segregation: Why It’s So Hard for Whites To Understand Ferguson, by Robert P. Jones
What Black Parents Tell Their Sons About The Police, by Toula Drimonis
Barack Obama, Ferguson, And The Evidence Of Things Unsaid, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
On Being A Black Male, Six Feet Four Inches Tall, In America In 2014, by W. Kamau Bell
In America, Black Children Don’t Get To Be Children, by Stacey Patton
Most White People Are Completely Oblivious, by Tim Wise
12 Things White People Can Do Now Because Ferguson, by Janee Woods
In Defense of Looting, by Willie Osterweil
Actually, Riots Are Good: The Economic Case for Riots in Ferguson, by Matt Bruenig
In Defense Of Black Rage: Michael Brown, Police And The American Dream, by Brittney Cooper
The System We Have In Place Has Biases, by Lecrae
In Darren Wilson’s Testimony, Familiar Themes About Black Men, by Frederica Boswell
How To Deal With Friends’ Racist Reactions To Ferguson, by Jenée Desmond-Harris
It Is Time To Understand The ‘Other’ Side, by Steve Sullivan
Why It’s Almost Impossible To Indict A Cop, by Chase Madar