In the weeks between announcement and Minnesota St. Fair protest, Black Lives Matter St. Paul received a bombardment of outrageous wrath on its Facebook announcement and in the comments sections of articles about the impending protest. It seemed to get uglier with each passing day. I signed up to attend the rally early but the need to participate grew in importance with each ugly missive – wanting to counter their messages.
I wanted to join in the righteous hatred of the haters, but I have the privilege of knowing a little about how people pick up these beliefs and how it is possible for them to change. I’ve had students like that in my courses on race, and I have witnessed changing perspectives. It doesn’t always happen — often I see a boomerang backwards as people leave the final class — but sometimes there is a transformation and sometimes is enough to provide evidence of how racism works and how it can be overcome.
I am talking about White people who struggle in other ways ( class, gender, sexuality, disability etc) not those elites who profit substantially from sowing hate. Those people don’t tend go to State universities and they don’t tend to waste time trolling.
I am grateful for the education I’ve received from my students about how they experience racism, how they absorbed racist ideas and how they can absorb anti-racism. They’ve taught me about my own prejudices and how we can all find our way out of the lies that divert and divide us.
I am NOT encouraging People of Color to spend a moment of energy on people expressing racist hatred. ( You won’t find me engaging with people expressing misogyny). I am encouraging White anti-racists like myself to think about ways to talk to people convinced their difficulties are caused by, for example, “reverse racism.” It feels righteous and good to reject people mouthing ugliness, but it doesn’t further justice.
Blogs to come will focus on some strategies in the form of stories. I would love to hear your stories. How do you counter racism? What has worked?