Chris Crass has a guide for fellow white anti-racism activists who are overwhelmed by recent stories about racist violence.
1. Take a moment to appreciate the fact that you are devastated by brutal racist injustice and that while your heart is broken, another alternative is that your heart has been hardened by the scarring of internalized white supremacy that has divested you from loving your own full humanity and the humanity of others.
Your devastation is the result of your heart being alive and refusing the socialized indifference, amnesia, and straightjacketing of your consciousness that post-Civil Rights movement white racialization aims for. Your internal capacity to be devastated by this murderous racist system is a source of power that serves you well and is what can help you be part of bringing this system down.
2. Focus your attention on momentum for justice, and decentralize the roadblocks and jerks. There are millions of people in motion for Black liberation at this moment, and courageous Black feminist leadership is front and center and the vision, strategy, inspiration, and guidance of the leaderful #BlackLivesMatter movement is where our attention should be, rather then on the right wing jerks, militantly post-racial racist trolls, people in your life who just want to argue or other energy sucking dementors that can grab and hold our attention – often making it hard to see the people around us in motion or ready to move for racial justice.
Ask yourself – am I letting jerks who want to maintain supremacy systems occupy my heart and mind – which we are also socialized to do, socialized to undermine our efforts to get free. Or are we choosing to open our hearts and minds to the leaders who give us energy, who give us hope, who connect us to ancestral liberation movements and movements of liberation and humanity loving people today?
3. Be loving with yourself, supremacy systems want you to exhaust yourself by beating yourself up, for not doing enough, for letting jerks demobilize you, for “not being good enough” to be the activist you want to be. Tell these voices of supremacy systems that they cannot have you, that you are stronger then they would ever allow you to believe, and that our movement is far more effective and stronger then supremacy systems want us to understand, to feel in our bones, to feel as tears of pain and sorrow roll down our face.
4. Take time to learn about grassroots Black Lives Matter organizing happening, led by Black activist, but also what racialized as white activists are doing as well. Try to know three inspiring, life affirming stories of resistance for each story of devastating racist violence. One of the key challenges before us isn’t just awakening white racialized people to the reality of racism, but to help ourselves and others truly believe we can bring it down and build up robust, complex, living and breathing Beloved Community. We are carrying on the legacies of our movement ancestors and the impact of our efforts is beyond what we often dare allow ourselves to dream.
5. What you do matters. You are not alone. For every Ida B. Wells, Anne Braden, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ella Baker, Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez, and Alicia Garza, there are millions of people whose names we don’t know, but threw down and are throwing down, in many different ways, giving what they could with the talents, capacities, and other responsibilities they had/have, and united by vision, strategy, culture, and love and rage, this is what makes movements move. What you do matters. You are not alone. Let courageous liberation leadership move you, and protect yourself from the forces that seek to demobilize, defeat and undermine you and forces for collective liberation.
6. Reach out to others, as you are, and generate mutual support, as many are having or have had these same struggles. Refuse the isolation supremacy systems seek for you. Accept the interdependence liberation calls us into, even when supremacy systems tell us we aren’t good enough to experience it. Love is on our side. We will get free, all of us.
Chris Crass is a longtime social justice educator and organizer who writes and speaks widely about anti-racist organizing, feminism for men, lessons and strategies to build visionary movements, and spiritual leadership for social justice. He is the author of Towards Collective Liberation and is a Unitarian Universalist working to build up the religious left.