6 Black History Month Challenges for White Folk
Huey from The Boondocks
What would a Black ‘future’ month look like? How would you create a racially equitable system for the future? If it’s hard to conceive of that, ask yourself why. Learn more about why focusing on ‘equity’ is more effective than ‘equality’ rhetoric: https://www.centerforsocialinclusion.org/our-work/what-is-racial-equity/
Consider not using MLK Jr’s “I have a Dream Speech” coupled with mis-using his work as an example of ‘he didn’t care about skin color and we are all equal.‘ Instead, consider learning about EQUITY and MLK Jr’s framing of justice that interrogated capitalism and white supremacy/racism as a SPECTRUM (not some binary) that goes from from ‘liberal’ whites all the way to ‘conservative’ whites. http://www.beacon.org/A-More-Beautiful-and-Terrible-History-P1333.aspx
Map out your own anti-Black racism (conscious or unconscious). Then, actively combat it by being ‘anti-racist’ and not ‘post-racial’. Resource: https://aorta.coop/portfolio_page/dismantling-anti-black-bias-in-democratic-workplaces-a-toolkit/
If you have white children, talk to them about racial inequities and how they benefit from white privilege and anti-Black racism as a 400+ year long ‘system’/history. Try not telling them, “We don’t see color- we are all equal.” One of the most unproductive responses, if your white child comes home and tells you that a Black kid at school was bothered, “Because she was Black,” is to tell them, “That’s not right. Our family doesn’t see color. We are all the same.” Consider framing a productive answer through anti-racism curriculum: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10643-011-0458-95.
If you (as a white person) find the title and/or content of this post ‘racist’, ask yourself why. Believe me, when I point out the patterns of how white racialized consciousness operates in most white people’s heads, I am told I am ‘racist’– despite the research, my 3 degrees focused on black feminist thought and critical theory. I’m not saying it’s ALL white folk, however, there are obvious patterns and ways of thinking that have been shaped by white racist structures. Check out Arnold Farr’s work on racialized consciousness here: http://sistahvegan.com/2009/09/07/racialized-consciousness-and-impact-on-food-philosophies/ Lastly… Learn the difference between ‘race-neutral’ and ‘anti-racist’ behavior/thought patterns. And please stop being a bystander with the excuse that you didn’t want to hurt your mom’s, brother’s, best friend’s, son’s, etc feelings and therefore, didn’t want to challenge their anti-black racist (or any racist) comment, belief, action. Stop saying, “I just try to be neutral”. Overall, you cannot remain neutral on a white supremacist high-speed train in which the driver has fallen asleep. “Oh, I don’t want to hurt their feelings and ‘wake’ them up because I might embarrass them for falling asleep on the job [of being fully loving human being],” is going to get us ALL KILLED. If your physical safety or job security isn’t in jeopardy then speak up and act as an ally. You can refer to my article here http://sistahvegan.com/2017/11/26/the-return-of-the-ngger-breakers-the-white-racist-vegan-playbook/
About A. Breeze Harper,PhD
Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions, a seasoned speaker, and author of books and articles related to critical race feminism, intersectional anti-racism, and ethical consumption. As a writer, she is best know for as the creator and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix)which explored how key Black vegan men use hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. In 2016, she collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the backgrounder Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked off FoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system.
Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.
Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. She is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”