Where Are All the White People?

Where are all the white people?

I’m serious. This isn’t a rhetorical question. Where are they? What are they doing? Why is it that my friends of color are constantly at the front of every issue, while my white friends’ social media is still filled with recipes and baby pictures?

I like cookies as much as the next person, but I haven’t had the brain space to think about how to improve my recipe in a while. And that’s not because my love of cookies has diminished in the past year, it’s because other things are just more important right now.

So often when I start talking to white people about direct action and allyship, they express concern over not knowing where to go. Well the fact is, there isn’t only one place to go, there are many, and where to go depends on where you are, what issues need to be addressed in your area, and what kind of work you like doing. The important thing to remember is that the best way to get involved is to follow people of color and learn from them. It won’t be easy or comfortable, but you’ll learn a lot more and be more effective in your activism.

Here are a few things I can point you to:

Cosecha — Immigrant rights through community action, with a focus on shifting public opinion, rather than a focus on politicians.

Solidarity Sundays — A group of anti-racist intersectional feminists who support other progressive organizations.

SisterSong — Reproductive justice led by women of color. They move beyond the pro-choice/pro-life debate and get to know the issues that affect all communities.

Movement Generation — Climate justice grounded in low-income communities and communities of color.

Black Lives Matter — Local, chapter-based and designed to build power and intervene in violence on black communities.

SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice) — Allyship opportunities for many (but not all) BLM chapters. Great educational resources and a good starting point if you’re new.

I’m not looking to overwhelm you with options. If you’ve never done anything like this before, just pick one and get out there. If you do find these aren’t right for you however, the contacts you’ll make through these organizations will help you find somewhere that is. Of the list provided, only two were started by white folks, but those two were started with the purpose of supporting organizations and communities of color. White supremacy has always been a problem, but this new administration has amplified and emboldened those values. There is no better way to learn than to follow the voices and leaders of communities most impacted by the system.

I wish I could tell you that it will all turn out fine… but it won’t. You’re bound to mess up and say the wrong thing. But hey, even though you might be inconsiderate or ignorant of some issues, you’re trying. Cookie recipes just aren’t going to save the world right now. Though, I’ve never seen anyone turn down a cookie, so maybe bring them along to your first meeting and make some friends.