The Truth: White People Should Talk to White People About Racism

“The white people in meeting audiences would throng around me, asking me, after I had addressed them somewhere, ‘What can a sincere white person do?’

“When I say that here now, it makes me think about that little co-ed I told you about, the one who flew from her New England college down to New York and came up to me in the Nation of Islam’s restaurant in Harlem, and I told her that there was “nothing” she could do. I regret that I told her that….”

“I have these very deep feelings that white people who want to join black organizations are really just taking the escapist way to salve their consciences. By visibly hovering near us, they are “proving” that they are “with us.” But the hard truth is this isn’t helping to solve America’s racist problem. The Negroes aren’t the racists. Where the really sincere white people have got to do their “proving” of themselves is not among the black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America’s racism really is—and that’s in their own home communities; America’s racism is among their own fellow whites. That’s where sincere whites who really mean to accomplish something have got to work….”

“Let sincere white individuals find all other white people they can who feel as they do—and let them form their own all-white groups, to work trying to convert other white people who are thinking and acting so racist. Let sincere whites go and teach non-violence to white people!”

“…Only such real, meaningful actions as those which are sincerely motivated from a deep sense of humanism and moral responsibility can get at the basic causes that produce the racial explosions in America today. Otherwise, the racial explosions are only going to grow worse. Certainly nothing is ever going to be solved by throwing upon me and other so-called black ‘extremists’ and ‘demagogues’ the blame for the racism that is in America.”

–Malcolm X in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, first published in 1965

Also check out:

Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism

Hey White People! If You Really Want to Help End Racism, You Need to Invest In Other White People (Yeah, We Know It Sounds Counterintuitive) 

10 Simple Ways White People Can Step Up to Fight Everyday Racism

3 Tips For Talking to Other White People About Racism

11 things white people can do to be real anti-racist allies

Ubuntu,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW

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I'm a Social Worker, Educator, and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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2 Responses

  1. rootedinbeing says:

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I think Malcolm X had it right, still has it right…. For as much as I have confronted Whites has it really done any good? I read an excellent article recently about white folks needing to do the work to “pull in” other whites and invest in themselves in order to make lasting changes…. It’s tough work but I think that must be where the truth is, because for all the diversity classes and trainings I have attended has any of it gotten us the change we are hoping for. No, not in my experience, at least.

    Also, I hope you are well, I love how your blog has progressed over the years… I can’t believe it has been literally YEARS I have been reading your blog lol. Good stuff.

    Take care

    • I’m with Malcolm on this too. For people who are white, the real work lies with working with people in their communities. When asked similar questions about what sincere white people could do, I often reply by telling folks to get in touch with what caused them to care about racism when they really don’t have to. I often say that being able to get in touch with the story behind what caused them to become aware of their privilege, and why they care, and be able to articulate that message to other white people who are not as aware is a huge part of the work.

      Yes, my blog has grown over time. I probably should have been writing a paper in grad school when I started, but I was so moved to act that I had to. I’m really happy with how things have progressed, and look forward to my and this blog’s continued development into the future.

      I really appreciate the fact that you’ve stuck with me as a reader all these years, and I hope you stick around. I enjoy reading your posts too, and can also notice how your voice has shone through more and more over time through your writing. I’m looking forward to a continued following of your work as well!

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