This is a story about the safety of white supremacy culture for white folks. It is intended to continue to engage with white people about how whiteness works, so that together we can work to dismantle it.
In the wake of the horrific murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, some white people in my town wanted to help. They asked the Chief of Police what his policies are, and got back a manifesto that included things such as participating in cultural diversity training, biased policing training, and events for Martin Luther King Day. It was embraced on Facebook. I looked through the list of people who "liked" it, and realized I know a lot of them. I was horrified, but perhaps I shouldn't have been.
If you are white, you might be asking yourself why this is a problem. Aren't they doing the "right thing"? Let me break it down for you.
White people asked the majority white police force how they are keeping people of color safe, and then applauded each other for their efforts. That is the status quo. White people protect each other and define the protection of all other people. Finding safety in whiteness is exactly what damages communities of color, because whiteness can only thrive if there is an "other" that is dangerous. Our comfort in the status quo puts communities of color in mortal danger.
If you are still wondering why I am concerned, all you need to do is pay attention. In the same town, where white people are applauding themselves, I have witnessed a fight initiated by a white kid at school where the black kid who was attacked got disciplined. I know of a black man who was simply walking down the street and got reported for suspicious activity. I saw a group of children playing at the park. A person rolled down her window and shrieked at the black kid "where is your mother, who is in charge of you" because his bike momentarily went in the road; while ignoring the behavior of the large group of white kids.
White people have a lens through which we see the world with a special filter. I'm beginning to think we should call it the white supremacy filter. You might be a very well meaning white person and not realize you have this filter.
Many of you have heard me talk about a new short film I am developing. My original plan was to tell a personal story about my own journey raised in whiteness to open up this conversation for more white people. I'm listening deeply to figure out if that story is what is needed.
As I go through this process, I am particularly interested in engaging with fellow white media makers to begin to understand the white supremacy filter and how it impacts the media we create. We have to name it in order to dismantle it. Use the contact form if you are a media maker and would like to join me in this journey.
How I am educating myself this week:
#LiveWithLayla: Why Whiteness Must be Named
And if you are parenting:
The Conscious Kid on Instagram and Patreon
If you are looking for more, check out this complete list.