Damali Ayo, that wonderful woman, has five steps that anyone can do to help end racism:
For white people:
- Admit it: You have a race. So does everyone. Use the words “white people”. Know that racism still goes on in America and you benefit. Know that your opinions are shaped by the white experience.
- Listen: When a person of colour trusts you enough to tell you about an experience with racism, just listen. Do not try to explain it away or somehow make it better.
- Educate yourself: Read up on racism on your own, in books and on the Internet. Read books and see films by people of colour. They are part of your country, you should know this stuff. But please do not ask people of colour all kinds of strange questions!
- Broaden your experience: But only after the first three steps! Go alone to events and places where most people are not white – not as a tourist but to break out of your limited whitebread world. The same with your friends: you should have good friends from all sorts of backgrounds.
- Take action: When someone says something racist, point it out, even if it is your friend or your mother. Be gentle but firm, civil but direct. Coming from you as a white person it will have a much bigger effect . The same with the media: write a letter to the editor and say that you are white. At work and at school push for a better mix of people – it is better for everyone, even white people.
For people of colour:
- Get real: Be yourself! Be who you truly and deeply are, not what you see on television (those are stereotypes). Love yourself and teach your children to do the same. Love each other: when white people see us tearing each other down, they think it is all right to do it too.
- Speak out: When someone says something racist, you must speak up: people will notice your silence and draw conclusions. Listen to white people. Know of materials that you can point them towards to find out more about racism.
- Educate yourself: Know the true history of race in America. Teach it to your children and teach them to be proud of their race. Know that the stereotypes that white people have affect you from the inside too.
- Build ties: Other races have had it bad too in America, not just yours. Read “A Different Mirror” by Ronald Takaki. You should have good friends from all sorts of backgrounds, white ones too.
- Take care: Do not let racism or anger consume you. Sometimes it is better just to walk away from a racist act, especially when you are too tired or angry, but let people know that that is what you are doing.