White People. White People. Be Encouraged to Take Action for Racial Justice.

The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.  —Arundhati Roy

“We all have a role in this movement. There’s no better work a white person committed to justice can do than confront anti-black racism in their communities, workplaces, and within themselves. Just like it’s vitally important that Black people organize our people, conscious white folks need to organize their communities.” — Waltrina Middleton – Cleveland Action, a member of the Host Committee for the Movement for Black Lives Gathering


Where the really sincere white people have got to do their ‘proving’ of themselves is not among the black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America’s racism really is — and that’s in their own home communities. —Malcolm X

The battle is and always has been a battle for the hearts and minds of White people in this country. The fight against racism is our issue. It’s not something that we’re called on to help People of Color with. We need to become involved with it as if our lives depended on it because really, in truth, they do.Anne Braden

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We need you defecting from White supremacy and changing the narrative of White supremacy by breaking White silence.—Alicia Garza       

One more thing. You may not get the validation you hunger for. Stepping outside of the smoke and mirrors of racial privilege is hard, but so is living within the electrified fences of racial oppression – and no one gets cookies for that. The thing is that when you help put out a fire the people whose home was in flames may be too upset to thank and praise you – especially when you look a lot like the folks who set the fire. That’s OK. This is about something so much bigger than that.

There are things in life we don’t get to do right. But we do get to do them. –– Ricardo Levins Morales

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.  — Marianne Williamson

The mission then for the denizens of the undercommons is to recognize that when you seek to make things better, you are not just doing it for the Other, you must also be doing it for yourself. While men  may think they are being “sensitive” by turning to feminism, while white people may think they are being right on by opposing racism, no one will really be able to embrace the mission of tearing “this shit  down” until they realize that the structures they oppose are not only bad for some of us, they are bad for all of us. Gender hierarchies are bad for men as well as women and they are really bad for the rest of us.

Racial hierarchies are not rational and ordered, they are chaotic and nonsensical and must be opposed by precisely all those who benefit in any way from them. Or, as Moten puts it: “The coalition emerges out of your recognition that it’s fucked up for you, in the same way that we’ve already recognized that it’s fucked up for us. I don’t need your help. I just need you to recognize that this shit is killing you, too, however much more softly, you stupid motherfucker, you know?”– Jack Halberstam’s introduction to “The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study” by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney

many quotes gathered by Showing Up for Racial Justice and others offered by members of WHAT’S UP?!


  1. As a white person, I have been wondering what my role is in taking action to address this racial hatred that I find so shocking and repugnant. Your post suggests addressing it in our own communities. I don’t ever hear this kind of racism or white supremacy expressed. I surround myself with spiritually grounded, politically progressive people and have for many years. What do you think is the role of people like me? This is a sincere question. I would be very interested in feedback. Many thanks.

    • Although many of us white, spiritually grounded, and politically progressive people don’t witness the kind of overt racial hatred that accompanied the Charleston Massacre and that is prevalent in certain white communities, it would be a mistake to think that there isn’t racism to address in our white progressive communities. In fact, systemic and institutional racism and the way that it plays out in terms of culture, interpersonal interactions, and internalized dominance is just as pervasive and even more insidious than overt forms of racial hatred due to its coded and obscured nature. Addressing racism – specifically white supremacy – means engaging in self education about the systemic, cultural, insidious, and covert aspects of white supremacy and understanding the role that white progressives have played in maintaining this status quo. A starting point is to understand that in our system of white supremacy, all whites benefit and are complicit in racism, thus you can’t not be racist even by holding political progressive views and thinking all people should be equal. The work is to resist the urge to take that personally or get defensive and to instead channel your energy into unlearning how we as white progressives have been socialized to not make ourselves and other whites racially uncomfortable. The work is to begin to understand how racism helps keep other systems of oppression intact so that we can transform these systems in a big way. —Amanda Gross, What’s Up?! participant

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