After witnessing the violence and hate that happened in Charlottesville, VA during a deadly white nationalist protest on Saturday, it's very easy to feel helpless. For so many years schools and popular culture taught us to believe that racism was a relic best left in the past, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Some people, such as NPR host Sam Sanders, are stepping up to remind people that there are actions they can take to fight racism.
"How will you fight racism and white supremacy in your everyday life?" Sanders asked on Twitter Saturday night, launching a thread that has since gone viral.
He answers his own question with some ideas about what people can do.
"Will you stop your coworker or relative or friend when they make that racist comment? Will you fight for diversity in your workplace?" he asked, placing responsibility on white allies to call out racism even when it may be uncomfortable or impolite.
"Will you understand and acknowledge how the neighborhood you live in and schools you send your kids to might perpetuate systemic racism?" Sanders wondered, offering this as a step of internal reflection than action. School segregation is on the rise, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported last year, and this results in poorer minority students having less access to important math, science, and college prep classes.
"Will you teach your children about racism and bias, or will you tell them not to see color?" he challenged parents. If this sounds difficult, a Google search turns up thousands of guides for children of all ages.
"Will you question who you choose to befriend and who you choose to ignore in your daily interactions, and honk how race might play a part?" Sanders wanted to know.
While this is a Twitter thread, he concluded it by saying,"Your tweets are not enough. There is work to be done, and it won't be done on our phones."
These tips will sound familiar to anyone who has been paying attention since the Black Lives Matter movement formed in 2013, and yet in the face of the white nationalist protests that took three lives yesterday, they bear repeating. Many people responded to Sanders with work they've already been trying to do.
"I just had a very tough but very necessary conversation with my dad. I'm drained and not convinced I broke through but I'm happy I did it," wrote Elizabeth Orr.
"Interrogate privilege. Call out racism. Resist normalizing injustice. March. Call. Examine content. Listen. Cede control of discourse," Big Bill Haywood said.
"As a teacher, I am fighting it by teaching my students love and understanding and by being well informed that this is still a problem!" EmWolf1 said, and several others who commented were teachers as well.
Some took this as an opportunity to pledge to do more. "I will use my privilege to create space at work for others to speak & protect their voices from being shouted down & discounted," Suzanne said.
Still, there were some who couldn't help but express how defeated they feel after the events of this weekend. Mary Mary wrote, "All I can do right now is cry."
Read the whole thread below.
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