Grief and Resistance, For White Folks Who Want to DO Something

I am still deep in my grief, and I know we need to plan our resistance. It helps me to focus on actual, practical things I can do as an individual white woman. Maybe it helps you too. Grieving is one of those things to do. So is resisting. Here’s my list, for white folks who want to do something, so far.

  1. Grieve. Publicly. Let other white people see you weeping. Do not hide your feelings.
    1. Do not expect people of color, women, immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities, trans and queer folks, or any other marginalized group to take care of you. Weep, grieve. And rely on other white people to offer you tissues. Do not center your pain in the lives of those who are marginalized.
    2. You are grieving, and that’s okay. Marginalized folks are grieving too, and terrified. Do what you do for people who are grieving. Tell us you care, ask what you can do for us. Bring us a casserole or a cake. Offer to help us with managing our lives for a little while. Daily life tasks are daunting when the grief is overwhelming.
  2. Go learn about white supremacy. Look it up, read articles, watch movies. Do this alone or with other white people. See where you fit in that history. Ask yourself tough questions about how you came to your white identity, and what it means to be white. Create a narrative about this journey. Then talk to other white people about this, and about how it felt to do this.
  3. All of those Trump supporters in your Facebook feed that you unfollowed or unfriended? Go get them back. Ignoring them does not make my queer family safer. Ignoring them doesn’t make your Muslim neighbor safer. Never talking to them again doesn’t prevent anyone from being deported.  
    1. Talk to them. Don’t shame them for their vote. Don’t attack them and call them names. Ask them why they voted for Trump. Ask them to tell you what matters to them. Talk to them about your own racist behavior. Tell them who you are. Invite them into deeper conversation. This, white people, is your work.
    2. This will be difficult, but it won’t kill you. People will die if you don’t. This isn’t hyperbole, it is the truth.
  4. Find out who, in your neighborhood or school or job, is a Trump supporter. Let the people of color, immigrants, disabled folks, Muslims, and queers around you know that so they can plan for their own safety. And then see #3.
  5. Understand that it will not be okay for many people you love, and telling us it will be is unkind and thoughtless. Some of us will die. Many of us will lose people we care about. Please don’t try to talk us out of our feelings with platitudes and endless optimism. It’s fine to believe it will all be okay, if that helps you. Just keep it to yourself.
  6. Make sacrifices. Of all kinds.
    1. Give money to groups and people who are supporting, elevating and leading social justice work. Skip the fancy coffee every day for a work week, and that’s $25 you can give to Planned Parenthood, or Black Lives Matter or #NoDAPL. Or give directly to a black woman or other woman of color because they deserve all your money anyway.
    2. Do not move to Canada. We need you here. We need to see the people who care, every day. We need the folks who have enough privilege to move away to stay right here and leverage that privilege into safety for the rest of us.
    3. Do not secede from the Union. Don’t even joke about it. This is not your land to take.
    4. Show up for people of color, disabled folks, Muslims, immigrants and queers. Even if you don’t understand or you disagree with our methods of resistance. Do not criticize or tell us what to do. Women of color, in particular, have started and managed every single effort of resistance this country has ever had. Any failure to achieve liberation is squarely at the feet of white women and men.
    5. Buy us food, coffee, and pretty things. Buy us plane tickets and massages. Take care of us, and let us know that you love us unconditionally by actually loving us unconditionally.
    6. Put yourself between the police and people of color. Take physical risks that will keep them safe.
    7. Don’t expect those of us in the margins to trust you. Ever. Let go of that. Show up anyway.
    8. Stop worrying about being uncomfortable or fucking up. We are all uncomfortable, and we all fuck up. Keep going. Your discomfort will not kill you.
    9. Put effort into where you spend your money. Go to restaurants, dry cleaners, stores, etc. owned by people of color and women. Spend your money where your values are.
  7. Keep your Clinton/Kaine lawn sign, buttons, bumper stickers, etc. Add ones that say “Black Lives Matter” and “I Love My Muslim Neighbors” and “Fuck the Patriarchy.”
  8. Wear a safety pin. Let people know that you are a safe person if they are in distress, or being followed or threatened.
  9. Amplify the voices of marginalized folks, in all ways. Do it at work. Do it online. Do it in schools. In meetings, sharing posts on social media, in all ways.
  10. Follow the leadership of people of color, immigrants, queers, people with disabilities, and Muslims.
  11. Prepare yourselves to break the law, and possibly be arrested for acting against the state. We are going to need you to put your ass on the line. 
  12. When you learn of something that marginalized folks are seeking to be supported, share that with all of the white folks you know. Here’s one that I just read earlier: If you are a cisgender woman or AFAB person, please get prescriptions for estradiol birth control and spironolactone and keep the pills on hand for the trans women you may know or meet who have their access to hormone therapy taken away. You might also want to get a whole bunch of Plan B–which has a shelf life of 4 years–to support the folks you know with uteri who may need it. ETA: Ella is a better choice than Plan B. Thanks, reproductive justice friends!
  13. Take care of yourselves.
  14. Resist. Keep your heart open. I know it hurts. Keep loving anyway.
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