This past week some of my many white friends began reaching out to seek advice about how to be a better ally. In the wake of the widespread racial unrest and rebellion following the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, their desire to do the right thing makes sense and is undeniably admirable.
But instead of looking to black people to guide you on the righteous path right now, my advice to white folks is that you would be better off looking in your own backyard. After all, it’s not black peoples’ responsibility to morally or intellectually bail you out of a problem we didn’t create, which has existed since the country’s founding on the backs of our free labor and that has been exacerbated by a racist president who we overwhelmingly did not vote for.
I’m accustomed to hearing white people of all stripes defensively say that they and their ancestors played no direct role in the subjugation of black people hundreds of years ago—as if that absolves them of any complicity—but let’s put that, and the fact that they still have benefitted from institutional racism, aside for a moment.