How to Deal With Racists on the Job and In Your Family: A Message for White People

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By Mark Naison (June 15, 2020)

Right now, your Black sisters and brothers are depending on you to make this country a safer place for them to live, work and raise their children. That can only happen if white people hold other white people accountable for behavior which makes Black people feel isolated, stressed out, and in danger.

There is no simple way to do this.

In the long run, we are going to have to change the way key institutions function, the way history is taught, and how resources are allocated, but individual white people do have influence over how their white friends, co-workers, and family members conduct themselves in public

The most important thing you can do is come to the defense of Black people in your neighborhood, on the job, on your team, in your college residence hall or in a store or on the street when they are being racially profiled, intimidated or attacked, whether it is by a boss, a coach, by law enforcement, their teammates or fellow students, or by random people they encounter. In this society, it is the job of white people of conscience to risk their own safety to come to the defense of Black people under attack.

But secondly, you have to police the language of white people around you. Everyone has the right to hold views about important subjects you might disagree with so long as they don’t use threatening or abusive language, but the minute someone in your family, on the job, in the locker room, or at the local bar uses the “N” word or an equivalent reference to Latinos, Muslims, Jews or Gay people, you need to say “Hold It. You can’t say that word around me. If you say it again, I am not only leaving this gathering, I am filming you saying it and putting it on social media”

The normalization of racial epithets in private leads directly to racial intimidation in public.

It’s time white people of conscience risk being hated to make Black people in America feel safe.

Think that’s rough? What’s rougher is what this country will be like if we DON’T do that.

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