Do the Work

 

Ending police brutality and systemic racism starts with making a commitment. If you're taking the #PoliceThePolice Pledge, you've already committed to stand in solidarity with the black community to hold law enforcement accountable. With the Stop and Film Script and Best Practices Guide, you'll be more informed about your rights to film police officers in action. You'll also get a primer on what actions you should and should not take when confronting law enforcement. This is a bold work, but there is much more work to be done.

Here are five ways you can actively take a stand against racism on a larger scale beyond police brutality. Instead of providing a laundry list of 50 or 100 resources, his call to action is purposefully direct and brief, so you can get to work. Do the work. Do it now. Do it often.

 

1. Examine your experience.

 

As a white person, your experience of the world has been marked by being the "norm," receiving the benefit of the doubt, and advancing from the unearned benefits that come with simply being white. This is called white privilege, and it's a concept all white allies need to understand and teach to others.

Before we can dismantle the system of racism, we have to dismantle our own understanding of ourselves and our experiences. Some of us start this journey towards understanding questioning whether white privilege exists. Some of us may think it exists but not realize how we as individuals perpetuate racism through our own actions or inactions. Being able to learn about racism and white privilege is a part of that privilege, though—meanwhile, the black community has to live the consequences of these systems every day. It is our job as white allies to break down the system and our own privilege to 

There are three steps that all white allies can take: 

  1. Understand and recognize white privilege. Educate yourself on white privilege. There are many resources, but you can start by reading What Is White Privilege, Really? by the Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. It points to additional reading that can deepen your understanding.
     
  2. Understand your personal biases. Everyone grows up with and carries predujices and biases. Some of the dialogues we tell ourselves could be internalized negative attitudes against others or even against our own identity groups. When it comes to race, what has been your lived experience? Take the Race Implicit Association Test, one of many Hidden Bias Tests developed by psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia, and the University of Washington. Taking about 10 minutes to complete, the test and its aggregated results indicates that most Americans have an automatic preference for white over black.

    For more reflection, download Beyond the Golden Rule, a publication of Teaching Tolerance, and take the "Personal Bias: A Reflection Exercise" on page 52. For the purpose of this exercise, focus your answers on your experience of race (rather than general "differences" as the exercise is written). You can use this exercise to further your understanding of your attitude towards all kinds of differences, including gender, sexuality, ability, and religion.
     
  3. Own your role. It is every white person's job to educate themselves on racism and understand their role in furthering it. By allowing inequity to continue—through action or inaction—we are complicit in the system. Understanding your white privilege and personal biases is a result. Next, you have to own your role in the system. What are the ways you've benefited from racism? What are ways you've failed to stand up against racism? What are you going to do now that you know all of this?


Talking about race is often a trigger for white people. Acknowledging white privilege and our role in it challenges some of the tenants of our very existence. That uncomfortable feeling, that resistence and denial is called White Fragility. It's a term coined by white social justice educator Robin DiAngelo in her book, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.

Along with everything else, understand that discomfort, and don't let it shut you down when you're faced with hard conversations about racism.

 

2. Be anti-racist.

 

It's time for the white community to use its privilege to unite against racism. It is not enough to not be racist—we must all be anti-racist. Actively protest, actively call out racists friends, family, colleagues, cops, and actively use your privilege for change. Being anti-racist starts with learning. Read, watch, listen, reflect. Here is a list of anti-racism resources including books, podcasts, articles, movies, TV series, organizations, and individuals to start your anti-racist work.

What does anti-racist work look like for you? As a white parent, it could mean teaching your kids about black leaders, black history, and black excellence. As a white teacher, it could mean adjusting your curriculum to reflect a less biased historical narrative. It could also mean bringing more black voices and leaders into their classes—or more black stories. As a white leader, it means enacting racial change in the spaces you influence. It also means listening, hearing, and acting upon feedback from black colleagues, customers, and stakeholders.

 

3. Demand policy change.

 

Where is it that you want to see racial justice and equity? Use your voice to demand policy change in those areas.

#PoliceThePolice Pledge is an initiative focused on ending police brutality.

We support the policy reform solutions proposed by Campaign Zero, a police reform campaign brought to life by activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. Those policy solutions include ten proposals aimed at reducing police violence. They circle around broken windows policing, community oversite, use of force, independent investigation and prosecution, community representation, body cam implementation, for-profit policing, demilitarization, and fair police union contracts.

By taking a pledge to film police violence, you are not only holding police accountable for potential misconduct, but also adding to a body of evidence that supports expansions of citizen rights to record. But you can do even more—what are your state's laws on filming the police? Campaign Zero, for example, proposes a policy that would ban police officers from taking cell phones or other recording devices without a person's consent or warrant. This law exists in some states, but not all.

See where your state stands on policing solutions with Campaign Zero's legislation tracker. If you don't like what you see, look up and write to your state and federal representatives to demand change.

In every area of law, you can take action to demand change.

 

4. Contribute to the movement.

 

Right now, people from all walks of life are banding together to stand up against police violence and racism. There are many ways to contribute to the movement. Here are a few: 

  • Sign petitions: Let government leadership know you stand up against police violence against black people.
     
  • Make donations: Contribute to a bail fun to support protester bail; make a donation to a social justice organization; or contribute to the family of a victim who has been murdered by law enforcement officers.
     
  • Protest: Participate in a protest in your community.


Refer to the Black Lives Matter "Ways You Can Help" resource list for an updated list of petitions, donation campaigns, and protests.

 

5. Enact anti-racism in every aspect of your life.

 

Racism does not stop with the police. It is only one symptom of the larger systemic problem of racism.

Every one of us play specific roles of influence in our lives: parent, employee, employer, family member, community member. What are your roles of influence? What communities do you touch? What industry to you work in, and how has it been affected by inequity? All of these questions can help you understand how you can enact anti-racism in every aspect of your life to become a positive change agent.

Let's consider some of the facts: 

  • Parenting: Starting at 3 months of age, children begin to show a preference for faces from their own racial group. And yet, only 6% of white parents talk often to their kids about racial identity. Are you a parent who can actively raise anti-racist children to make the world a better place?
     
  • Education: Black students spend less time in classrooms due to discipline. They are 3.8 times as likely to receive one or more out-of-suspensions as white students. Are you a teacher, principal, or concern parent who could hold your school district accountable for reducing disciplinary disparities?
     
  • Health care: Black people receive lower-quality health care than other racial groups. Black mothers die at two to three times the rate of white mothers as a result of child birth. Are you a doctor, nurse, or medical professional who could push for equitable care?
     
  • Employment: Job applicants with white-sounding names receive 36% more job callbacks than applicants with black-sounding names. That hiring discrimination has shown no decline in 25 years. Are you a hiring manager or business leader who can implement policies for reducing hiring bias?


In every domain of life, racism exists, because it is systemic. As a person of privilege, you have the power to use your privilege for social change. For even more actions you could take to use your white privilege, read this primer on positive ways to use white privilege written by black leader and thinker Alterrell M.F. Mills. He outlines dozens of actions based on profession and expertise, including for educators, financial professionals, hiring managers, lawyers, media members, students, business leaders, and more.

 

How are you using your white privilege to dismantle racism in America? Share your story with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to inspire others to take action, too.

 

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Educate Yourself

Every white person has a duty to educate themselves on racism and their role in the system. Don't put it on the black community to inform you. Inform yourself.

 

To start, if you're taking the #PoliceThePolice Pledge, download the Stop and Film Script and Best Practices Guide to understand your rights as a witness and your role in using your white privilege to stop police brutality.