Getting involved in organizing efforts against racism
June 24, 2015 6:03 AM   Subscribe

Hi, I'm a white person who wants to get involved in organizing efforts against racism. I'm particularly interested in efforts that get other white people involved in taking action.

(Example would be the petitions to remove the confederate flags)

Please send any ongoing projects you know of or ideas for good organizing that hasn't happened yet. I'm thinking of asking for an unpaid leave from work to do this work.

Bonus points for projects going on or people to reach out to in the Chicago area. Thanks brilliant hivemind!
posted by sb3 to Human Relations (7 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I would start by reading Tim Wise and his recommended reading list, so that you know what you're doing and why. And who you're benefiting. Remember, as one white person to another, when we are battling racism, we are not fixing anything for Black people. Black people can take care of themselves and don't need any paternalism. What we are doing is trying to eradicate a cancer from our own midst. I would actually begin with his memoir, White Like Me.

A very inspiring book is White Men Challenging Racism.

You might check into White Conversations For Racial Healing to see if you can participate.
posted by janey47 at 9:36 AM on June 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

Think about why you think you need to be organizing something rather than supporting an existing organization.
posted by jaguar at 9:48 AM on June 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hi there, fellow white anti-racist Chicagoan here. Unfortunately I'm too new to the city to suggest particular groups for you to join, since I'm trying to figure that out myself. However, to expand on jaguar's remark, I would suggest first delving into your own privilege and educating yourself (and with all due respect to the suggestions above, the place to start is listening to voices of people of color, not other white people). This is not to imply that you are not educated or have not thought about these issues before, just that there's a whole lot of history to grok before you can be an effective ally.

I found this book, Seeing White, to be extremely helpful-- it shone a light on ways I experience privilege that I hadn't even thought of (and it's not like I never thought about privilege before reading it, either).

I would also suggest Ta-Nehisi Coates' writing (here and other pieces), and by extension his suggested reading list. Chicago figures prominently in the history of racism and segregation (we continue to be the most segregated city in the country), so a lot of this reading will help you understand the history of the city-- so that when you do identify which efforts you want to join/amplify, you will have some background and context.

Best of luck!
posted by shaka_lulu at 3:40 PM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I don't know if you are following the Rachel Dolezal story - but what I have learned from it is you don't have to be Black to join the NAACP. Their stated goal:

The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.
posted by cda at 6:04 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

For an alternate perspective (not one that I endorse wholly, but think deserves serious engagement from those of us on the left), I would recommend reading Adolph Reed, particularly his take on the limits of anti-racist organizing. And if I were based in Chicago, I would try and get involved with organizations like the Chicago Teachers Union and United Working Families that are simultaneously organizing around the interests of low-income Chicagoans of color and pushing back against the overall regime of corporatist governance that is doing such harm to these communities in the first place. I'm sure there are similar groups that I'm unaware of.
posted by black_lizard at 6:00 AM on June 25, 2015

Everytown organizes against gun violence, which in Chicago often intersects with racial justice issues. There's a rally Friday.

There are a great many racial justice groups in Chicago and I think you should focus on joining with them. The Community Renewal Society The Shriver Center's Racial Justice Institute Southside Together Organizing for Power Chicago ROAR.

The Chicago Defender used to have regular issue release events which were a good place to meet people who can help you get involved. I can't tell if they still have them, but you might try following them on the social media.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:22 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

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