#WhitesAgainstTrump

#WhitesAgainstTrump: Following Up, Following Through, and a Call To Action

For many white people, November 9th 2016 marked a turning point in their view of America’s trajectory of human rights progress. However, for Americans of color in particular, this trajectory was never taken for granted and the election of Donald Trump was, in many ways, anything but a surprise. Since election day, countless opinion pieces have been written attempting to understand why and how Donald Trump, with his message of populism and white nationalism, captured the hearts of so many voters. While many feel despair and fear at the uncertain course ahead, there is also reason for hope and, most importantly, the requirement for action. Among the many valuable analyses offered, why do we choose to continue to focus on racial justice, and why is anti-racist white organizing an important tool in the Trump America?

Prior to the election, a network of dedicated white anti-racist activists across the country tried to prevent the reality of a Trump presidency. These efforts failed. If we are going to be effective in bringing about a more just and equitable society, quite simply more white people need to step into anti-racist action in this country. The role of white people is not that of “savior” but rather to recognize that we, as white people, also suffer under the current white supremacist system, and we too, need to be freed. While white people are profound beneficiaries of white supremacy, there is also a moral and psychological toll exacted through generations of the perpetration of dehumanizing violence and the breakdown of empathy. Of course, it is also in the self-interest of white people to be able to work effectively in multiethnic coalitions, to not be pitted against people of color to fight over scarce resources, which sabotages unity in demand for better wages, clean air and water, access to good education, housing and healthcare. White anti-racism efforts serve to recognize, repair, and reclaim a new way of being white in the world that rejects white supremacy and works to dismantle it. We work in concert with people of color so that we may all be liberated from the oppression of violence, injustice, scarcity of resources, and the failures of human empathy that we see around us. Not in more than a generation has it been so clear to wide swaths of the American citizenry that their liberation is at stake.The great indigenous activist, Lilla Watson, famously said, “if you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come here because your liberation is bound up with mine, let us work together.”

White People 4 Black Lives emerged in Los Angeles in 2014 as a white, anti-racist activist collective. We were responding to the explosion of anti-Black violence nationally, and the failure of our “criminal justice system” to redress its own endemic racism. Our immediate desires were to support the Movement for Black Lives, the L.A. chapter of Black Lives Matter, and to “call in” other white people to help end white supremacy and all manifestations of institutionalized racism. Soon after, we affiliated with national SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), which had organized in 2009 to address the anti-Black backlash and rise in visible racist attacks following the election of Barack Obama. We have work to do and the uphill battle will be steep. We are calling upon our fellow white people of conscience who may be questioning the status quo, wondering how we got to a Trump presidency, feeling motivated to take action but hesitating out of fear of getting it wrong or having no idea what to do in this crucial moment in time.

To white folks who have been activated by a Trump presidency and looking for what to do, here are a few suggestions:

  • Read and Learn: Due to the whitewashing of American history in schools, and politicians who push a color-blind agenda, race is often never discussed in white homes or communities. It’s no wonder, then, that white people so often struggle for adequate understanding, context, and vocabulary to describe the various forms of racism and their impacts on individuals and society. It is important for us as white folks to commit to self education; we don’t want to put the burden of this work on people of color. It’s not their responsibility to carry us through our anti-racist education process. There are many great works by people of color as well as white anti-racists to draw from. A great tool is the Black Lives Matter Syllabus, but don’t stop there.

 

  • Be mindful of language: Many Facebook posts following Trump’s election were filled with statements of shock and dismay, particularly from white people, many of whom were seemingly unaware of how pervasive white racist sentiment still is in this country. During the campaign it was easy enough for us with white skin privilege to dismiss Trump’s followers as “fringe,” while people of color were warning that white supremacy is indeed a real and viable political strategy and still infests the hearts and minds of enough white people to get him elected. We must be mindful of the language we use on social media and elsewhere; our shock as white people only serves to discount and minimize the lived experiences of the most marginalized. There are many thoughtful pieces circulating from people of color who want white folks to move from “shock” into action.

 

  • Find an existing organization and get involved: There are many white folks who are newly engaged and activated because of a Trump presidency, and this is wonderful. Unfortunately, though, racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and islamophobia were problems in America long before Trump’s candidacy. Fortunately, amazing networks, organizations and individuals already exist with years and decades of experience working for social justice and human rights. Before trying to reinvent the wheel, check if there’s a local group already doing the work that speaks to you. Chances are they can use more hands and resources; your time may be best utilized supporting an organization that’s been around awhile. You can find local white anti-racist chapters across the country here.

 

  • If you can’t find an organization in your area, start one: There are many places in the U.S. that still lack infrastructure for anti-racist organizing. Those areas will need some heavy lifting when it comes to transforming hearts, minds, and institutions. Starting from the ground up is hard, but rewarding. There are toolkits for starting your own chapter here.

There’s value in remembering that there are many justice advocates who have been working for decades during more and less hospitable Presidential administrations. State oppression is, perhaps, an existential given of modern life. We are in a period of renewed visibility of the oppressive structures and it may get worse before it gets better. History serves both as a caution and as an inspiration.

Finally, we have reason for optimism and hope. Current social, economic, environmental, and racial justice movements are alive and well. They are also intersecting with each other, supporting one another, and working together in ways that previous issue-oriented movements did not. Based on this, we envision the potential for a mass movement broader and deeper than even the Civil Rights, Anti-Vietnam War, and Women’s Movements. White anti-racism is a key ingredient to a mass movement. Demographics alone require meaningful and substantial white participation in large-scale social movements if we want to see real change.

White People 4 Black Lives (WP4BL) is a white anti-racist collective and activist project of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE-LA) and operates within a national network of white anti-racists called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). WP4BL is rooted in acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles locally, and the Movement for Black Lives nationally. If you are in Los Angeles and would like to get involved, send an email to whitepeople4racialjustice "at" gmail.com

#NoDAPL Solidarity Statement

White People for Black Lives, the Los Angeles affiliate of Showing Up 4 Racial Justice (SURJ), stands in solidarity with the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux) peoples at Standing Rock whose water protectors are staging a defense against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project. Led by politically connected, powerful corporations and bankrolled by Wall Street, the DAPL will snake under the Missouri River, through sacred burial grounds and greatly endanger water sources that are livelihood and life for Oceti Sakowin communities. These facts are only backed by legal doctrine that unequivocally support the case against the pipeline. In fact, the construction is in violation of five federal treaties and regulations that should govern its construction. However, the letter of the law and word of our government has always defrauded Native peoples. Which is why non-Native, and especially white solidarity with the Native water protectors at Standing Rock is paramount. In light of the strength of white nationalist politics demonstrated in the election, white solidarity with people of color led movements is more important than ever.

As white, antiracist allies, we frame this moment of resistance at Standing Rock through the lens of opposition to white supremacy. According to whitestream histories of the United States, the indigenous people of this continent were eradicated by colonization. However, the massive Native resistance shown at Standing Rock is a firm affirmation of Native existence; and, likewise, that colonialism still persists in the US, and must be exposed and opposed. We acknowledge the systematic attempts at the destruction of indigenous peoples, starting in the seventeenth century and continuing to the present day. Broken treaties, smallpox, stolen land, planned starvation, military occupation, kidnapping and forced assimilation, and finally annexation and “second class citizenship” are this country’s record.  

In order to swallow the mythology of US democracy, we must  refuse to acknowledge the dispossession of land and the political exclusion of Native peoples. In fact, the US democracy story requires their erasure. Those supporting the DAPL just want the Oceti Sakowin to go away, to not have dignities or rights that counter the “progress” of US capitalism. This moment has brought into the consciousness of many white people that which is deliberately hidden from view; it is easy to see the state’s reaction when indigenous people come into view--violent suppression. We, as white antiracist allies, must call out the blatantly racist tactics US governmental and corporate forces are currently employing against indigenous people at Standing Rock. Suppression tactics have included LRADs, MRAPs, attack dogs, pepper spray, mass arrests, rubber bullets, and bean bag rounds.

In challenging white supremacy, we must amplify the indigenous voices that fight for their survival even to this day. We, as white antiracist allies, must advance the interests of indigenous communities by pushing their stories into the consciousness of masses of white people.  Humanization penetrates the soothing salve of ignorance. We do not need to frame this struggle as one of whitestream climate change or sustainable development when Native leaders are giving voice to the most critical political analysis on the topic. In North America and globally, indigenous peoples’ struggles for sovereignty and defense of the earth have been the strongest bulwark against the destruction of water and land.

We must draw attention to the unfolding, expected media narrative that centers whiteness, reducing indigenous leaders to primitive, inferior, nameless beings, unworthy of the same rights, privileges and political agency proclaimed available to whites. Indeed, the very land that provides the current battleground is stolen. We must also take care against well-meaning but insensitive attempts by white activists to reshape or redefine Native-led struggles to suit our own narratives or perspectives.

As members of White People for Black Lives-Los Angeles, we recognize that we too are living on stolen lands--of the Tongva peoples. As white allies, we must be conscious of our own participation in the cruel and ongoing colonial denial of the Tongva and other Native peoples and their rights. As such, we must be mindful to keep indigenous people centered in their struggles for justice, so that our alliance with them may continue to grow in challenging evolving practices of colonialism. We must defer to the wisdom and expertise of Native leadership, respecting their lived experiences and trusting that they know both the goals and the tactics that are best suited to meet those goals. More specifically, when in engaged in resistance at Standing Rock, we must arrive with open hearts and minds, as followers.

We are witnessing a critical moment of resistance in Standing Rock. Over 200 tribes have coalesced, uniting in peaceful protest. Thousands of people have come together to ask only for what is theirs ― land and water, yes, but also basic human rights. #WaterIsLife #NoDAPL

Showing Up for Racial Justice offers us specific ways white people can get involved in supporting Standing Rock:

  1. Donation pages are here: https://nodaplsolidarity.org/support-the-camps/

  2. Go to North Dakota. If you're not able to go, take action against all of the targets outlined here: https://nodaplsolidarity.org/targets/. There have been actions taking place across the country, from banks to school walk-outs to police departments to golf courses owned by corporate CEOs

  3. Target mainstream media outlets online to call out lack of coverage, using hashtags #MediaWhiteout and #NoDAPL

White People 4 Black Lives Solidarity Statement with #Charlotte #Tulsa #Columbus

Terence Crutcher in Tulsa OK, Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte NC, and 13 year old Ty’re King in Columbus OH are the three Black people most recently shot and killed by police notoriously and publicly, the latest examples of the tragedy of US racism. Their killings were senseless and preventable; yet, already, some people around the country are looking for a reason or explanation to ignore or minimize the significance of these ongoing acts of deadly violence. However, there is no justification.

In these moments, we need more than another letter or statement like this one, which really only echoes what Black folks have been saying for years, decades, and centuries. As white folks, we must start listening, acknowledging, responding, and acting with determination to solve the problems of white racism. We can do this by:

  • Supporting Colin Kaepernick and other athletes in their refusal to stand during the national anthem. 
  • Challenging our friends when they fail to see constant violence against Black people as an expression of anything other than a social system that is racist and profoundly broken. We must call these friends and other white people we know into the movement to end police violence, racism, and white supremacy in the US, into the community of justice and transformation. 
  • Reframing conversations in white communities from the need for “peace” --meaning quiet-- to a focus on systemic racism and state sanctioned violence. 
  • Building relationships and networks with other white anti-racists and show up when allies are needed in this struggle - at rallies and actions to support the Black Lives Matter movement or helping with planning and providing needed resources. 
  • Promoting and defending the voices of Black movements against state repression and media racism. We must help provide material and legal resources and court support for Black and other people facing such repression for standing up and speaking out against racist police murders.
  • Acknowledging and supporting our Black and brown friends when they tell us about their experiences of racism. We need to offer unquestioning support, without searching for reasons or explanations that only cast doubt on what is at this point an undeniable reality: racism is everyday and nationwide. 
  • Working hard to overcome the day-to-day institutionalized and internalized racism in commerce, education, government, and belief systems that the police killings grow out of and enforce.

As the Los Angeles chapter of White People 4 Black Lives (WP4BL), we support Black people expressing themselves in response to all forms of racial oppression. Black people are leading their own struggles and have their own political strategies. We must support these brave folks who are committed to a better vision for America. We commit ourselves and call on other white people to engage in critical self-reflection and examination about the meaning of race and whiteness in our lives. We also commit ourselves and urge other white people to take action and organize.
We need to challenge and change what is normal white culture in this country so that it is no longer anti-Black. Let’s dismantle white supremacy.

White People 4 Black Lives (WP4BL) is a white anti-racist collective and activist project of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE-LA) and operates within a national network of white anti-racists called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). WP4BL is rooted in acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles. If you are in Los Angeles and would like to get involved, send an email to whitepeople4racialjustice@gmail.com

#DecolonizeLACityHall Solidarity Statement

White People 4 Black Lives is in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter activists and allies who have been participating in the #DecolonizeLACityHall encampment in Los Angeles since July 12, 2016. On this date, the Los Angeles Police Commission--the alleged “community oversight” board to the Los Angeles Police Department--found the murder of #RedelJones to be “in policy.” We believe that this and other inactions by the police commission illustrate that the police commission is ineffective at holding officers accountable for excessive use of force and murder, and perpetuates the abusive and murderous tactics of the LAPD.

According to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles: Redel Jones, who stood 4'10" tall, was accused of stealing $80 with a kitchen knife from a local pharmacy on August 12, 2015. By witness accounts, she was running away from police when she was spotted in an alley and shot as she fled; her body laid on the pavement for hours and her family was not notified of her death for more than a week. Redel was the mother of a 7 year-old girl and a 13 year-old boy; her husband, Marcus Vaughn, travelled to Los Angeles by bus to be present for the ruling. Her family is still reeling from her death and outraged by the ruling.*

The day after the Redel Jones verdict was read, the mayor and police chief were on “official” business at the White House to engage in dialogue about policing in the United States, yet they refuse to engage in dialogue about policing in their backyard. The strategic absence of the mayor and police chief at a time when there would be anticipated community backlash is not new and only further demonstrates their unwillingness to engage with community members who critique policing practices. Instead of firing Beck or meeting with activists at the encampment, which have been demanded by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti chooses to meet with who he deems so-called voices of Black communities in Los Angeles who will not call into question or demand scrutiny of policing practices in the city.

While at this forum on policing at the White House, Chief Beck espoused that the community needs more “dialogue” in Los Angeles about policing. Yet he fails to create such opportunities for meaningful dialogue. The only space for alleged “dialogue” is at the inaccessible LA Police Commission meetings that are held at 9:30a.m. on Tuesday mornings, when most people have to work. It is held at the epicenter of policing, the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters, rather than at a community-based site. The optics alone in this “community meeting” are unsettling to witness: armed police officers in the room surrounding the public, the first two rows closest to the Board of Police Commissioners closed to the public--reserved for police officers only, Commissioners and Charlie Beck on their cell phones during public comment, and members of the public being arrested for speaking during public comment or speaking past their 2 minute public comment time. Still, Black Lives Matter activists and allies attend weekly to have their voices heard. Dialogue can only go so far though, when the community demands action.

When Beck provided his weekly report to the Commission just one week after the Redel Jones verdict, he focused solely on “Black on Black” crime. This is a direct insult to Black Lives Matter activists, who continue to push back against this common tactic of focusing on “Black on Black crime” as a way to divert attention from police excessive use of force. This is a false narrative because it is a phenomenon that simply doesn’t exist. Crime almost always occurs intra-racially and it is not unique to Black people, and in fact is a direct result of racial segregation that exists in the city. Therefore, when crimes are committed, they are overwhelmingly likely to be committed between people of the same racial or ethnic background. Beck didn’t include this information in his report.

The policies and practices of killing Angelenos with impunity must end, and in order for it to end, accountability needs to start with Charlie Beck and his failed leadership. Mayor Eric Garcetti must #FireBeck and demonstrate that he does not enjoy and will not tolerate having the LAPD rank as the most murderous law enforcement agency in the country. This should be considered a disgrace and a mark on his record as mayor. A Black life was taken by Los Angeles Police, and once again, it was found in policy. With 21 people murdered in 2015 and 11 murdered this year, many with a known history of mental health issues, one must begin to question the policies of LAPD. One must assume the lack of accountability, lack of de-escalation training, and policies that allow for Black and Brown people running away from police to be killed, all synergistically create the conditions for LAPD to be the most murderous law enforcement agency in the country. No doubt, protection is provided to the police-turned-vigilantes under Chief Beck, who is on record stating that he will “protect” police officers like the “vests that they wear.” Furthermore, although over 1,000 complaints were filed against officers in the past year, NONE of them led to admonishment or punishment for any of the officers involved--even the LA Police Commission President Matt Johnson, who is no friend of Black Lives Matter, had to call this into question. White People 4 Black Lives supports Black Lives Matter Los Angeles’ call to #FireBeck for these reasons. We do not want this occupying force in the city.  We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, who demands of all of us to reimagine what public safety should look like.

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles local demands:

  1. Fire Chief Beck for his refusal to hold LAPD officers accountable.

  2. Work in partnership with the Los Angeles City Council to develop a reparations strategy.

  3. Hold Police Commission meetings that are open, accessible, and at a time when working people can attend.

  4. Appoint real community advocates to key commission seats.

  5. Adhere to the agreed Town Hall meeting structure with Black community negotiated in July 2015.

*This excerpt is taken from a petition Black Lives Matter Los Angeles is asking for community support in signing, please visit: https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petitions/fire-police-chief-charlie-beck-for-leading-the-most-murderous-police-force-in-the-united-states

#FreeJasmine Solidarity Statement

White People 4 Black Lives believes the recent unjust conviction of Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine (Richards) Abdullah, and the 8-year sentence meted out to Joshua Williams in Ferguson for property damage during protest, underscore again the fundamental inequity and racism in a criminal (in)justice system that provides impunity to racist murders by police while criminalizing dissent and advocacy of human rights by Black freedom fighters.

These court results, while unacceptable, are not unprecedented; they are unfortunately more often the rule rather than the exception. Targeted surveillance, "kettling" of protesters (blocking egress while simultaneously declaring an assembly unlawful and ordering dispersal), mass arrests, abusive language and physical provocation and mistreatment of Black activists, selective prosecution, and harsh sentencing for protesters have become the order of the day in an effort to chill dissent and public exposures of police killings, shootings, beatings and deaths in custody. Law enforcement and prosecutors in L.A. County have gone after outspoken demonstrators and organizers of resistance to police abuse, while providing no legal check on police officers who maim and kill, even when their actions are found "out of policy" by the LA Board of Police Commissioners, charged with community oversight of the LAPD.

This is not new. Going back to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, institutional enforcers of the status quo of racism and white supremacy have used any means at their disposal to try to quash dissent and resistance. The attempt to criminalize and intimidate Black Lives Matter advocates and allies today has all the hallmarks of the beatings and arrests of civil rights protesters and voting rights advocates, the targeting and politically motivated frame-ups of Black Panthers, and the infiltration and surveillance of groups like the Coalition Against Police Abuse. Meanwhile, the infrequent prosecutions of police who kill Black people that result in acquittals or wrist slaps, as well as the much more frequent refusal to prosecute or even name such officers, make it clear that District Attorneys and courts are complicit in the "blue wall of silence" and guarantee of impunity that allow racist police killings to continue.

The school-to-prison pipeline, the racist disparities in police stops, arrests, convictions and sentencing, the use of mass incarceration to confine and control Black communities, and the targeting of activists who seek to expose, address and overturn such evils is testament to the deeply rooted nature of racism and white supremacy not only in the criminal justice system, but in the entire political, economic and social system it upholds and protects. Reinforcing racism in housing, education, employment and even the environment, such systematic injustice must be ended NOW. The costs in stolen lives, blighted aspirations and even in planetary ecological sustainability are too great to be borne any longer.

What you can do:

There are 4 ways you can support:

1. Please sign and share the Color of Change petition to #FreeJasmine here

2. Write a support letter and send it to Jasmine's attorney attorneygyamfi@gmail.com and send it to Judge Elaine Lu. You may use language such as:

Jasmine Richards was recently and unjustly convicted of a felony in Pasadena. I have personally witnessed how this valiant and socially conscious young women has been repeatedly and selectively targeted for police harassment, intimidation and arrest at protests in which we both participated and at the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners meetings we have both attended. Engaged in similar first amendment protected speech, our treatment has been entirely different, which I suspect is because I am a 69-year old white male retired school teacher -- nonetheless outraged about racist police murders and vocal about it. But police do not single me out as they do Jasmine, whom they seem to perceive as an existential threat. I believe her arrest, prosecution and conviction are unjustified, and I urge you to exert your judicial authority to suspend any sentence if you cannot indeed exculpate her and toss the conviction out entirely.

3. Donate to Black Lives Matter LA Legal Defense at www.crowdrise.com/blmla and make a note "Jasmine" for funds to go to her support.

4. Share this solidarity statement with your networks and help get the word out about the conviction.

Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter and Baltimore Uprising

What we have witnessed in the streets of Baltimore this week is a popular uprising - it is Black resistance to repeated and unchecked state violence. As white anti-racists, we stand in solidarity with Baltimore and Black resistance to white supremacy.

The mainstream media only has one frame of reference for covering these events: to undermine and discredit its significance by using ready-made and racialized labels such as “riots,” “looters,” “thugs” and “criminals.” These terms are not ahistorical, and these terms are not apolitical. Every time a news anchor wags a finger because of the destruction of property or paternalistically wrings their hands over their imagined idea of the broken Black family, they are affirming the violent anti-Black bedrock that this country sits upon. This is not ok. This is a feedback loop of hypocrisy and denial.

Either/or thinking (“good” protesters vs. “bad” protesters) and double standards characterize our media coverage, immediately erasing the context out of which these actions emerge. When white people express rage, such as when there is a loss in a major sports game that results in a “riot,” the media coverage is much more forgiving, and never refers to those engaging in “violent” behavior as “thugs.” Similarly, the “good” cops vs. “bad” cops binary fails to take into account the role of policing in Black communities - justifying the over-policing of Black communities and other communities of color and suggesting that it’s only those rare “bad” apples that contribute to the fear and rage in Black communities toward law enforcement. It is Black communities, not white communities, who are subject to unfair searches through “stop and frisk” laws that disproportionately target people of color and Black people, not white people, who are targets of legally sanctioned, yet dehumanizing, policing tactics on a daily basis by “good” cops. It assumes that “good” police officers are somehow devoid of conscious and unconscious bias when interacting with the communities they are sworn to protect. This binary assumes that policing is necessary in order to keep residents safe from crime, and that it is not the state’s tool for social control.

Too often our white skin privilege renders us indifferent to the reality of Black people’s lived experience. We can assume that police are there to protect us. We need not worry that an interaction with police may result in us taking our last breath. Time and again we’ve witnessed videos of police interacting with armed white men pointing a gun at officers, which rarely results in an officer’s use of force, let alone lethal force. Yet we have been conditioned to see Black communities, and Black bodies, as objects to be feared.

The media perpetuates the ideology that property is more valuable than Black lives. By focusing on the “looters” and “violence,” mainstream media gives permission to a national audience of people sitting in the comfort of their own home that they, too, should be outraged at property damage, and diverting attention from the focus on police murders, lack of accountability, and lack of investment in Black communities. As white people, we are encouraged to “pray for peace” in times of uprising; instead, let’s work to end police brutality and invest in Black communities. The media’s call for “peace” is really a call for a cease in the disruption of white comfort. Naming this is essential.

We support Black people expressing themselves in response to oppression and brutality in whatever forms that takes. We recognize Black people's right to lead their own struggle and determine their political strategies, and we recognize the important leadership that provides to all people committed to justice. We don't believe it's our role as allies to dictate what such struggles and strategies should look like. We commit ourselves and call on other white people to engage in critical self-reflection and examination about the meaning of race and whiteness in our lives. Our on-going work is to question the assumptions we hold about security, law enforcement, and the tactics of change; to excavate the lies and distortions we have internalized about American history and the color of justice; to be honest and radical in our evaluation of inequities and the privileges we have been afforded. The greatest tool we have toward this critical learning is our ability to listen. We must recognize and lift up the experiences and wisdom being expressed by Black people about what it means to be Black in this country. We also commit ourselves and urge other white people to take action and organize. Engage other white people in conversations about racism - call them in to the community of justice and transformation. Reframe conversations in white communities from “peace” to a focus on systemic racism and state sanctioned violence. Build relationships and networks with other white anti-racists and show up when allies are needed in this struggle - at rallies and actions to support the Black Lives Matter movement or helping with planning and providing needed resources. Promote and defend the voices of Black dissent and resistance against state repression and media racism. Help provide material and legal resources and court support for Black and other people facing such repression for standing up and speaking out against racist police murders. Let’s dismantle white supremacy.

‪#‎blacklivesmatter ‪#‎blackspring ‪#‎baltimoreuprising ‪#‎bmoreunited ‪#‎baltimore ‪#‎Baltimorerising

 

Statement of Solidarity with student organizers on college campuses

College campuses are places where microaggressions occur with profound frequency. Overt acts of racism are ignored by those in power who lack the awareness, cultural competency, empathy, and/or desire to stand up against racism on their campuses. Thus, learning environments still remain safe for white people and traumatizing for people of color. At the University of Missouri in mid-September, students openly pushed back against various acts of racism and hate crimes on and off campus. Students staged rallies and protests to demand increased accountability and the resignation of their college president, Timothy Wolfe. The tipping point came when Black football players refused to play until the president resigned. Similar to major wins in the past, the moment Black people make gains toward liberation, white supremacy rears its ugly head more visibly than usual. When this demand was met, the campus erupted with an outpouring of racist threats and violence. Black students were being evacuated from campus and some professors refused to cancel classes or make accommodations to ensure the safety of their Black students.

As seen throughout history, college campuses are often the site for major social justice movements and organizing, and this is another one of those moments. Students at 51 college campuses across the U.S. have submitted formal demands that include: increasing diversity of professors, requiring diversity training, funding cultural centers, requiring diversity classes, tracking race-related offenses, expanding mental health resources, renaming buildings/mascots, retaining more minority students, expanding financial aid, offering an apology, revising speech code, and removing officials. Similar to the counterculture protests on campuses in the ‘60s against racism, poverty, and the Vietnam war, many colleges across the country are staging walk-outs, sit-ins, solidarity rallies, and calling for more than just dialogue, but action to confront and end racism. As Black and non-black students of color organize actions on a larger and more public scale than we’ve seen in decades, many white students have been showing up in solidarity. White students who want to be in solidarity are navigating the complicated role of putting their bodies in useful places while trusting the expertise and lived experience of the organizers of color. White People 4 Racial Justice encourages these students to find support and tools to deal with navigating these spaces effectively at their local chapter of Showing up for Racial Justice (http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/).

While many white people write-off the college activists by dismissing their experiences or saying that they should be “grateful” for the opportunity to be in college, we acknowledge that college campuses were built by slave labor for wealthy white people. Historically, only wealthy white men were allowed to occupy institutions of higher learning, while all others have had to fight for their seat at the table. We still see the harm from this historical racism existing in these institutions today, coupled with sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism; all of which undeniably create conditions for the dominant group to continue to thrive at the expense of all others. While students of color have limited access to these spaces, these institutions continue to benefit white people, and put the burden of multicultural education on students of color and marginalized groups. The history, comfort, and education of white people is prioritized in social-emotional ways, and in measurable institutional ways. One look at the board of trustees for almost all universities tells us that white men remain solidly in control of these institutions. We must work together to make our universities places where Black and non-black people of color receive the institutional support that they deserve to attain an education that honors their history and experiences.

To the white people that may agree with the message but disagree with the tactics, we urge you to think about why it feels uncomfortable. For years, college campuses have responded to racist incidents and tension by calling for more dialogue. While conversation is necessary, we also know that it is safer and more comfortable for white people than putting our bodies on the line for change. It is our belief that increased space for discussion is crucial, but until justice is achieved, dialogue cannot replace action. Sit-ins, hunger strikes, boycotts, and walk-outs have been and continue to be extremely effective change agents on college campuses and beyond. Despite being successful, these tactics often make liberal white people uncomfortable. Remember: it is this kind of strategic organizing that makes room for Black folks. It was this kind of strategic organizing that interrupted Bernie Sanders at a rally to demand a civil rights platform- this demand was successfully met within the following few days. Push back on your desire to avoid conflict and keep things comfortable; it is that sort of thinking that has kept the status quo in place for so long. We want to affirm the importance of lifting up ALL Black voices at the forefront of the fight for justice and to trust the chosen tactics of people fighting for their liberation.  

We urge white people to  work with other white people to unlearn racism, to invite each other in, and to make an impact in our own white communities. For college students, this means continuing to build a network of white people who will stand in solidarity with the people of color who are leading the movement toward racial justice on their campuses. It means setting intentional community guidelines of engagement for how we, as white people who are mindful of our power in society, will choose to show up for racial justice. It means having difficult conversations with other white people about race and racism, and it means being honest with ourselves about how to move through the world in a way that recognizes our privilege and the ways our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors can cause harm. We must fully commit ourselves to a lifetime of self-education and the development of an anti-racist practice. To the college students of color who are showing up boldly for racial justice: we see your struggle and its connection to the eradication of white supremacy throughout society as a whole. Your actions set an example for all of us, and remind us of our responsibility to live solidarity as a verb.

White People 4 Racial Justice (WP4RJ) is a white anti-racist collective and activist project of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE-LA) and operates within a national network of white anti-racists called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). WP4RJ is rooted in acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles.

Additional support for white people taking action for Black Lives Matter can be found at http://www.chalicepress.com/Towards-the-Other-America-EPDF-P1632.aspx

Statement in Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter Minneapolis

On Monday night, November 23, 2015, three armed, suspected white supremacists shot five Black protesters in Minneapolis who were peacefully demonstrating against the police shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jamar Clark, that occurred on November 15th (#JamarClark). Clark was executed by police while handcuffed; a story that is disputed by local police. Initially, police refused to release the names of the officers, refused a Department of Justice investigation, and refused to release the video of the incident. Since that time, protesters have been occupying areas near the scene of the crime as well as the local precinct, disrupting business as usual and occupying the local precinct, all to demand justice for Clark and his family. Police aimed to stop protesters by arresting them and spraying them with chemical irritants. No doubt, as a result of the protesters’ tactics, this incident was not swept under the rug, and two demands have been met: the DOJ will begin an investigation and the names of the police officers have been released. Black activists continue to put their bodies on the line to hold police accountable.

Because of the success and determination of protesters calling for racial justice, white supremacists saw the gathering of #BlackLivesMatter protesters and allies as a hunting ground. These men attempted to infiltrate the group and blend in, but were immediately identified as “shady” people that didn’t belong to the movement. After all, the movement is built on love in our hearts and solidarity with Black people, so of course white supremacists wouldn’t fit in, no matter how hard they tried.

We stand in solidarity with BLM Minneapolis and all Black-led struggles against violent, racist institutions of policing and extrajudicial systems. We, as white anti-racists, believe we must counter the white supremacist backlash and media narrative that ignores protester demands and explains acts of terrorism as isolated incidents carried out by lone gunmen. These “lone gunmen” are part of a network of white people intent on preserving their version of America, one where whiteness reigns supreme, at the expense of all other lives, particularly Black lives. Our anti-racist stance may provoke discomfort or anger from other white people, but we must be courageous and vocal of our solidarity with Black-led movements. For these reasons, we stand in solidarity with Minneapolis, and with all other Black-led groups working towards liberation from a racist police state. We believe there are more white people of conscience who see the injustices committed across the country and want to change hearts, minds and institutions. We are intent on creating a network of white anti-racist people willing to create a new America. We imagine an interdependent, intersectional future where we work together to create racial justice through our personal actions and in our larger institutions. This will be a future where justice reigns supreme and Black lives matter.

The expressions of white supremacist rage toward Black people and allies is not a new or recent phenomenon, and white supremacists are using tactics to terrorize that are similar to what has been used generations before us. Church burnings, mass shootings, armed counter-protests, and now infiltrating the movement with intent to cause harm, such as in Minneapolis, are failed attempts at stopping the movement and reclaiming power. Why do they do it? Because the perpetrators see that the movement is winning, thus, they are losing. They feel the tide turning, acts of justice and accountability increasing, and the consciousness of white people shifting, as more white people are defecting from white supremacy and see the benefit of a just and equitable society for all.

While it is comforting to perceive these violent acts as the last desperate breaths and vestiges of anachronistic systems and social attitudes, we must also be aware of the ways racism and white supremacy can be less explicit and less immediately visible, and continue to work against more diffuse forms of oppression such as appropriation, micro-aggressions, social norms, inequities in access to care and education, etc. This is especially important around the holidays as we partake in capitalist rituals of consumption; as white people, we need to pay attention to the ways in which corporations profit from Black labor and continue to divest from businesses that reify oppressive systems. In our solidarity work, we must also be mindful of the ways we try to spread awareness and call others in; it is imperative that we remember the murders of Black folks are normalized through consuming them via graphic images (that can retraumatize Black communities) and a lack of intentionality around our goals in sharing news and articles. White people used to sell photographs of Black folks murdered through lynching; let us not perpetuate that horror in our social media feeds.

As society celebrates Thanksgiving, a holiday that celebrates the alleged coming together of pilgrims and Native Americans, we inadvertently reinforce white supremacy, with very little effort being put into understanding the violent history of genocide toward Native Americans and the attempts to re-write them out of American history. It is important that we reflect on how genocide continues to be perpetrated today by racist vigilante killings, police killings, health disparities, joblessness, and mass incarceration. This racism has murdered generations of Black people and other people of color. We have a moral imperative to educate ourselves to build a new identity of whiteness free from the racism that has left a violent imprint in our hearts, minds and very fabric of our being. We must raise our children in a culture where Black lives truly matter.

We, as white anti-racists, believe that the strategy to end the white supremacist system must include multiple tactics - including breaking white silence. As people across the country gather with friends, family, and other loved ones for this holiday season, let us keep in mind the many people who will not be joining their families at the dinner table because they were killed by police. Now is the time to have conversations with other white people about racism and its implications in America. We certainly do not all wield weapons, but we often wield our power and privilege in ways that are complicit with the white supremacist fabric of our society. White shooters wore masks to conceal their identities; it is crucial that we as white allies, comrades and accomplices take off the masks of politeness and pretense that allow us to laugh uncomfortably at our families’ racist jokes, to not challenge stereotypes and assumptions, and to avoid the courageous actions that might hold ourselves, our families, friends and loved ones accountable. For many white people, these conversations require support and tools. Showing Up for Racial Justice, a national white anti-racist network and organization, has a toolkit for white people interested in having holiday conversations with friends and family members. The toolkit can be found here: http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/alternative_narratives_for_holidays

We recognize that white silence is complicity and condones the atrocities we see committed against Black people, such as Jamar Clark.

Although the holiday season is often seen as a time of celebration, we believe it is time to lift up the memory of Jamar Clark and the countless others who have been murdered this year at the hands of police, and each year for decades, while the murderers are free to celebrate the holidays with their families. That is a privilege denied to many as a result of police brutality in this country. Think about the protesters who were shot for simply demanding justice, who will more than likely be spending their holiday in a hospital bed. We don’t believe that white supremacist terrorist tactics will end the movement, but will only serve to strengthen its resolve. In fact, we may see more white people coming into this movement as a result.  We hope with all our hearts that the response to such horrific, explicit acts of violence will be that more and more white folks who have been standing on the sidelines will be ready to stand up together and say "enough is enough" to white supremacy. We await you with open arms.

White People 4 Racial Justice (WP4RJ) is a white anti-racist collective and activist project of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE-LA) and operates within a national network of white anti-racists called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). WP4RJ is rooted in acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles.


Links/Resources:

Alternative Narratives for Holidays: http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/alternative_narratives_for_holidays

Black-owned Business Guides for the Holiday Season:
http://photos.essence.com/galleries/buyBlack-essence-list-82-Black-owned-businesses-shop-holidays

http://www.supportBlackowned.com/

Have that Awkward Conversation About Race and Whiteness: http://kuow.org/post/have-awkward-conversation-about-race-and-yes-whiteness-too

http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/racist-family-members-ferguson-thanksgiving/
Minneapolis BLM Legal Fund: http://www.payit2.com/collect-page/56349

Racial Justice Holiday Table Setting: http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/showingupforracialjustice/mailings/70/attachments/original/SURJ_Holiday_Placemat_V7-01.jpg?1448400460

Statement of Solidarity with BLM Mayoral Action

White People For Racial Justice, a white anti-racist collective in Los Angeles, materially and politically supports the Black Lives Matter LA’s occupation of Mayor Garcetti’s living space. We believe this encampment is  a means of impressing upon Los Angeles city residents and those that hold the power within the current police state, the message that police brutality against Black lives and lack of police accountability will not be tolerated.  Ezell Ford was murdered on his own street, in his own neighborhood, which is under constant surveillance and oppression by a police agency that acts as an occupying force. The Black Lives Matter movement has brought the issue to Mayor Garcetti’s neighborhood. We support Black Lives Matter tactics of disrupting business as usual and demanding that the calls for justice no longer go ignored by public servants who were elected to carry out the will of the people.  

Mayor Garcetti has shown up reliably for many interests in material ways, including promoting the visibility and public support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, targeting City services and resources to homeless veterans, and creating job opportunities for youth in the City.  What is now very clear is that Mayor Garcetti is unwilling to  show up to protect Black lives with definitive action. Instead, he is allowing the police state to continue unchecked, which serves only to further the divide between communities and law enforcement.

We demand that Mayor Garcetti meet with Black Lives Matter: LA. It is his duty as the Mayor to work with the community, and the community is demanding transparency and accountability in this moment. His ability to ignore requests from his constituency demonstrates his complacency and complicity with police violence. This sends a message to Black people that their lives don’t matter, and also reinforces what Black communities already know, that politicians have the privilege to pick and choose who matters and whose voices are worthy of a seat at the table.  

Garcetti, Chief Beck and the LA Police Commission are making a cold-blooded racist political calculation that they can ignore the Black Lives Matter movement and the outrage of Black communities. We pledge to help upset that political calculus by organizing and acting to deepen that outrage and demand for justice among white people in this city, in concert with the leadership of the Black Lives Matter #WakeupLA campaign.

Charleston Shooting statement

White People For Racial Justice, a white anti-racist collective in Los Angeles, wonders, why is the mainstream media so hesitant in calling this a terrorist act?  In cases of mass shootings, which seem to occur with a profound frequency, such as in Sandy Hook and Columbine, there is media outcry when the victims are white. In the case of Charleston, there is no media outcry on the white perpetrator acting as a terrorist. White perpetrators will never be seen as terrorists, nor does the white community feel compelled to formally denounce the actions of this “one lone gunman,” nor will all white people be seen as terrorists as a result of one person’s actions. Instead, we nod our heads in sadness, sit in silence and check out at Trader Joe's. Meanwhile, our Democratic leadership uses this tragedy to focus solely on gun control, rather than racism as the primary issue to address.

This was a violent and intentional action against the Black community. Roof’s choice of location was clear: the AME Church in Charleston has a deep history of surviving violent racism stemming back to the early 1800’s. It was founded by a group of Black men discriminated against by whites at their local church. They faced constant harsh punishment for breaking the literacy laws, meeting without a white majority, and praying at night instead of the enforced daylight hours. In 1822, Denmark Vesey, a civil rights leader and co-founder of the church, was hung for using the church as a space to plan a slave revolt. It was then burned down by white supremacists. After being rebuilt, Blacks were unable to use the space after all-Black churches were outlawed in 1834. Until the end of the civil war in 1865, community members were forced to use the church they built in private. Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King, and Coretta Scott King have all spoken at the AME. Roof was welcomed into the space to pray in a space that has long served as a symbol of Black resistance to our white supremacist system, before he opened fire on the community. Yet, the media is still wondering if this is a premeditated and racially motivated act. White people continue to prey upon people of color and other white people in explicit and systemic ways, jeopardizing the entire planet's existence.

When he was found after this violent action, Roof was detained and not killed on the spot, unlike the approximately 1 ½ seconds it took for police officers to arrive on the scene and kill Tamir Rice. Roof was placed in a bulletproof vest as he walked surrounded by police officers, no doubt to protect him from potential retaliation.  This is undeniably different treatment than that offered the teens at the Texas pool party. The timing of the this terrorist attack, a few short weeks after South Carolina cop Michael Slager was indicted on murder charges of Walter Scott, begs more questions. The consistently different treatment of Blacks and whites across the country makes us wonder if the actions of any law enforcement officer, Mayor or Police Chief in America would ever change without a real demand. Perhaps they would be willing to listen if more white people decided to act against racism.

Roof will be centered in this narrative rather than the Black folks he killed, as a "bad apple," and not as a result of the anti-Black culture we all co-create every day. The mainstream media, entrenched in white supremacy, will use this act of terrorism to distance itself from such explicit demonstrations of racism and focus on his alleged mental health issues, because it is too painful to accept that a person is capable of committing such atrocities based solely on hate alone.  Right wing media attempts to spin this as an attack on faith, rather than an attack on Black lives. Black rage will be neutralized and the community response pacified, while further entrenching systemic oppression under the guise of unity and an "AllLivesMatter" asymmetric co-optation.  This "bad apple" exceptionalism of the #‎CharlestonShooting social media hashtag allows us to ignore the long legacy and frequency of anti-Black violence, deny the historical scale of this terrorist massacre, and will insist on not implicating white supremacy.

White people of conscience, intent on living in a better world free of exploitation and oppression, must begin building that world today in conscious solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and freedom struggle. We must activate and apply our own grief, outrage and rage against the system that produces and protects killers like Dylann Storm Roof as an inevitable byproduct of the systemic subjugation, devaluation and exploitation of Black people. This may take the form of infiltration, exposure and disruption of organized white supremacist formations: delegitimizing of racialized policing, judicial and incarceration systems, challenging the fundamentally white supremacist educational system at all levels, or making it impossible for the corporate media to continue to spew racist hate and other propaganda unchallenged. We invite other concerned, fed-up white people to leverage the privilege this oppressive system grants us and join us in strategizing and implementing tactics that will correspond to the life-and-death urgency of these times.

We question, why there? Why now? The response we see is that the dominant culture sees a sea change coming. As history has shown us, when justice for the oppressed prevails, the oppressors rise up to fight back to maintain their control. The backlash is expected because the tide is turning to dismantle white supremacy. More white people are talking about race and our legacy of racism in America. White people have a choice to either sit in silence and maintain the status quo, or recognize that our liberation is tied to all oppressed peoples and we must, for the sake of humanity, join the fight to end white supremacy.