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


Trump’s Racism-#WhitesAgainstTrump

We, as white people, have been called upon to “get our boy.” Yes, we have been called to firmly and publicly take a vocal stand against the racist vitriol constantly spouted out by Donald J. Trump.

At first, some of us were inclined to laugh off his extremist statements as something out of the ordinary, something so far “out there” that there was no possible way anyone could take seriously such hateful, narcissistic, fear mongering, and divisive lies…until they did. Until his rhetoric began to resonate with mainstream white America, and brought the white nationalist sentiments of many white people in the U.S. out in the open. Such sentiments have been promoted by corporate-owned media; specifically the lies of Fox News and its affiliates, but supposedly liberal NBC also saw fit to invite Trump to host Saturday Night Live even after his racist remarks and tolerance of violence by his followers. Such sentiments are also rooted in an educational system that whitewashes US history and tells lies of omission and commission about Black people, Native Americans, Mexicans, and other people of color.

Trump’s rhetoric clearly speaks to, and claims to speak for, the white supporters who attend his rallies. We witness the violent reaction from his supporters toward protesters, against heroic people of color who put their bodies on the line to publicly denounce Trump in his safe white haven. Other Trump supporters, stoked up by his anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim rhetoric, have attacked people after the rallies. When we see this, we must bear witness to this violent white mob rule. We’ve seen many violent white mobs and the harm they have caused throughout history. We need to stop this legacy of hate and violence, which Trump has encouraged by saying that a man who held up a Black Lives Matter sign perhaps deserved to be treated roughly, or that the anger of supporters who beat up Latinos was “understandable.”

Trump’s Islamophobic remarks are an example of the way that he incites a base who is seeking a scapegoat to blame for society’s ills. He consistently states that we must close down Mosques, ban Muslims from entering the country, create a government registry to track all Muslims, and use a system similar to the Japanese internment camps to handle the “menace” that has been created by Muslims in this country. We are standing up to say that the true menace lies within the hate speech of Mr. Trump. His words create violence, and give permission for scared white people in the US to vandalize mosques, threaten Muslims with violence, bully Muslim children in schools, or even kill Muslims (or those who are perceived to be Muslim).

Trump’s anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant rhetoric generally is equally reprehensible. He has branded all Mexican migrants to this country as thieves and rapists, not human beings who are fleeing from the dire conditions in their country. Remember, many of those conditions were created because of US policies and measures, such as the “War on Drugs” and NAFTA. These devastated local economies, local environments, and ways of life in Mexico, Central America and elsewhere.

Trump has not disavowed the support he has received from open racists and neo-Nazis, like David Duke or Stormfront. He has retweeted remarks by a fascist who created a meme showing Trump, in a Nazi uniform, condemning to a gas chamber Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (who is Jewish). Trump, who led the “birthers” who claimed Barack Obama was not born in the US, has been using the same tactic to question the US citizenship or nationality of his Cuban-descent Republican opponents, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. He has become the predominant voice and face of “white nationalism” in the US. Trump has made vile misogynist statements and mocked a disabled reporter. His alleged “humor” has also been directed against figures in the Republican Party and FOX News, not only against women he identifies as “liberals.”

No matter what side of the aisle one may be on, it is common knowledge that politicians tend to be swayed by money, and become mouthpieces of donors. Trump’s donor base includes groups dedicated to pushing anti-Muslim agendas such as the Sarah Scaife Foundation, Carthage Foundation, and Allegheny Foundation, who have donated a combined $10.5 million to Islamophobic groups from 2001-2012. Furthermore, another Trump donor, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, donated $6.5 million to Islamophobic groups in that same time period. With donors such as these, it is no surprise that Trump amplifies an Islamophobic message, and that the donors’ agenda becomes the Trump agenda. Trump’s Islamophobia appeals to a particular base of a fearful, reactionary white voting bloc, and has served to create an opening to the “mainstream” for racist and far-right elements in this country, and pushes establishment conservative politicians further and further to the right.

The foundation of Trump’s own fortune, inherited from his father Fred Trump, came out of racist real estate holdings that enforced whites-only racial covenants by excluding Black tenants and homebuyers. Many of these practices were not illegal, and had actually been encouraged and subsidized by the Federal Housing Administration, just as federal GI Bill benefits helped finance white flight to suburbs after World War II. Donald Trump himself continued the same practices even in the era of “open housing” legislation that nominally prohibited such housing discrimination.

The consequence of Trump’s hate speech is the carnage and suffering of those he chooses to scapegoat, at the hands of those in power. The US Constitution supposedly guarantees religious freedom, yet we see that this value, like other rights or ideals technically afforded in the Constitution, is only enjoyed by those who fit a specific mold and are considered safe in the minds of the ruling elite in this country. After all, one can look back at US history to see our legacy of scapegoating the “others” who embody characteristics that the ruling class chooses to fear. We use fear to scapegoat "others" in order to justify our continued domination of the economic, cultural, and educational institutions within this country. Historically, and clearly continuing to the present, the rights enumerated in the Constitution do not apply to groups or individuals such as, African slaves, Indigenous people, immigrants (including our European ancestors at one point), women, Japanese people including Japanese-Americans born in the US, LGBT people, communists, union members, Black liberation advocates...and the list continues. Today, we are living in a new version of McCarthyism, served to us by Mr. Donald J. Trump. Now it’s not about fearing communists, although the “C” word and red-baiting are still being used by the right and by pro-corporate elements in both major parties. Today it is targeting Muslims, Mexican immigrants, and Black militants. We’re not sure who will be next on the list of scapegoats, but it could be anybody at any time, especially if you choose to challenge the power elite.

We see you and hear you for what you are, Trump, and we are standing up against your racism. Your hate will fuel us with love to create a more just society. Although the wealthy white elite of this country often pit working class whites against people of color as a technique to maintain white supremacy, our vision for justice is grounded in the knowledge that there is enough for all of us, and we will counter Trump’s narrative with this message until justice prevails.

As white people of conscience, we see this legacy and we refuse to buy into the fear, hate, and scapegoating tactics of fascists. As history has shown us, Trump and Trump’s supporters are on the wrong side. However, words are not enough. We must use our actions to make sure Trump and his supporters do not represent all of us, and that his presidential campaign is ended. We must boldly speak against racism even when we feel uncomfortable, challenge ourselves to fight our own racist beliefs and actions, and put strategic pressure on our institutions to be more just. Our legacy as white people also includes those who choose to say “not in our name,” those who chose to defect from white supremacists, who have been “traitors” to white supremacy in the name of justice. We say to Mr. Trump, we will not allow you to continue pushing your divisive, fear-mongering, and hate-filled agenda that propagates the toxic beliefs of white supremacy. We denounce your calls to register all Muslims, ban all Syrian refugees, and carry out mass deportations of all people without documents.

We are taking responsibility for you, Donald Trump, as a product of, and a corrupt and oppressive force within, the white nationalism that has predominated in this country’s development. We want to act--in solidarity and alliance with Black people and others committed to freedom, dignity, equality and justice for all--to create an opposing pole of attraction, a countervailing force against your scapegoating and your justifications for racist repression and violence. We know that you have no real answers for poor and working class white men and women whose life expectancies and job prospects have dropped precipitously since Wall Street crashed the economy, or who have been incarcerated as a by-product of the racist “War on Drugs.” Only solidarity with the struggles for human rights and freedom waged by Black people, by migrants and Muslims -- by all those Trump targets -- can secure a better future for us all.

Let us be reminded that we are rooted in our abolitionist past, and that we can draw collective strength from the legacy of our ancestors who chose to not align themselves with the lynch mobs. As Anne Braden famously stated, we can choose to be part of the “other America,” the America of the freedom fighters. We -- and other white people -- do have a choice.

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 (

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

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:

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.


Alternative Narratives for Holidays:

Black-owned Business Guides for the Holiday Season:

Have that Awkward Conversation About Race and Whiteness:
Minneapolis BLM Legal Fund:

Racial Justice Holiday Table Setting:

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.