“What Must I Do About this Current Racial Chaos: A Brief Note to My White American Friends”
A lot of you, my white American friends, have messaged me and asked for book recommendations to understand the current racial crisis in the American society. I’m happy to know that you are committed to taking some radical steps to create another country in this place and improve the human condition, especially race relations and the condition of Black people and people of color in the American society. Yet remember this, friends: America has always had a racial crisis since the beginning. We just didn’t want to talk about it or admit it altogether. The American society is, in fact, a racial crisis and was born in racial bloodshed and genocide. This is the first historical truth in the American memory and archive that must be acknowledged toward better race relations and freedom. The suggested texts below try to look at America’s long-overdue racial trauma from multiple perspectives and with an interdisciplinary lens. In closing, I make some propositions to contribute toward the common good and human flourishing.
- “Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi
- “How to Be Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi
- “The Color of Compromise” by Jemar Tisby
- “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson
- “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo
- “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein
- “Raising White Kids” by Jennifer Harvey
- “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Tatum
- “So You Want To Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
- “White Rage” by Carol Anderson
Finally, let me say this to you, friends! Books are great resources to help us think about difficult and complex issues in society; yet they are inadequate without you being actional toward change. In other words, don’t just read good books and do nothing positive about what you’ve learned from them! Cement the life of the mind with some good actions (praxis) that will radically transform your community and this country. Remember this! Radical transformation and the process of conscientization must begin with YOU. Here are a few things you can undertake to change yourself and this country.
- Be an ally for justice and Black lives by holding the Police force, the Judicial system, and the Prison system in this country morally and legally accountable. Remember systems are created, maintained, and enforced by human agents. If you’re white or a person of European descent in this country, consider this hard truth: these systems are in place to protect you. You have “white privileges” and “white blessings,” as compared to the way these systems and institutions disfranchize and (mis-)treat Black people and people of color. You should also acknowledge that your white privileges and white blessings are not only systemic and structural; they’re pervasive in all spheres and areas in this country: the economy, education, family, sports, leadership, church, politics, healthcare, higher learning, housing, ownership, history, military, lifestyle, fashion, etc.
- Fight injustice and racism wherever you are and in all places. This requires the process of reassessing your personal values, interests, and judgments as an individual and an ally for truth and justice. You must recognize that non-White and European people have human rights, black rights, for example. Those rights must be protected and defended at the threat of racial injury and all forms and manifestations of injustice.
- Do acts of compassion and kindness toward the vulnerable, especially people of color. There’s a difference between paternalism and the practice of intentional compassion. You must reject the former; an attitude of paternalism not only will hold back progress. It will give you too much power over the individual or/and the community you are helping. Paternalism may lead to manipulation and abuse. It will hinder your own much-needed self transformation and spoil all the good fruits in the basket.
- Do not compromise justice and human dignity when it pertains to engaging and treating non-White people. Justice is a complex and wide-ranging concept. Its various aspects include legal, economic, political, racial, religious, linguistic, and cultural justice. To practice holistic justice will entail your consideration of all these relationships. You must understand that every person is a human being and that human dignity is an intrinsic quality in all individuals and all races, sexes, and ethinic groups. To compromise justice because the individual is not white or European descent is to deny that person (or that community or racial/ethnic group) of his or her most fundamental human characteristic: dignity.
- Repent and forgive, and be an agent of reconciliation and an ambassador for peace. Unfortunately, the solution to our current racial wound and other complentary crises in this country will involve a long process of recovery. We cannot create another nation untill we learn how to repent of our racial sins and our acts of compromising injustice and violence toward the vulnerable and people of color, especially Black and African American people. Repentance should accompany forgiveness, and genuine forgiveness in the context of this political state would urge the process of reparation. Reparation is not only necessary for political stability and internal, and social justice; it is imperative for economic justice and the practice of these three inseparable virtues: repentance, forgiveness, and justice.
- Be a learner and a good listener, and always try to reform yourself in the process of change; remember that change is always a possibility and the possibility for change always begins in your community and with YOU.
- If you’re a person of faith, seek the face and will of God in all of these things through prayer and fasting. One of the central characteristics of God is lovingkindness, which simply means his disposition to practice justice and defend the cause of the weak. God is always in solidarity with the oppressed. As a result, he has called his creation and those who believe and love him to do justice, show compassion to the poor, and defend the vulnerable in society.