Dear White People, Turn Your Trump Tears and Rage Into Action (OPINION)

Protesters in Manhattan flip their middle fingers against the presidency of Donald Trump on November 9, 2016. (Photo by Rhododendrites/Wikimedia Commons)

Protesters in Manhattan flip their middle fingers against the presidency of Donald Trump on November 9, 2016. (Photo by Rhododendrites/Wikimedia Commons)

Donald Trump was just elected, and I’m seeing a lot of anti-Trump white people crying, literally, about what just happened politically. They can’t believe this is the country they live in “now.” So, first I want to say, white people, we’re going to have to talk about race, A LOT, from now on. Its going to be uncomfortable for you, but if you truly want to combat the Trump World Order, you’re going to have to face race, head on.

Second, welcome to the world that people of color in this hemisphere have been living in since the 15th century. It’s a very scary place and WE have never felt truly safe. You’re going to start to understand some aspect of how that feels. But first understand that racism, sexism, classism, nationalism and all the other nasty -isms that Donald Trump represent have always been present in this system. Always. They just haven’t affected you.

Until now.

Third, we don’t need tears. Ok, yes, you need to process and angry, and yes, its scary, but if you’re white, you’re not going to be a literal target in this society they way people of color have been and will continue to be. This is because your whiteness protects you from a lot of things. In and from that safety that you enjoy, if you’re not doing this already, you need to act, we need you to act, and you need to start carrying your fair share of anti-racism action.

We’re not in a position to have white people watch from the sidelines as people of color continue to carry the entire anti-racism movement.

You all have to jump in.

Immediately.

Ignoring that racism is thriving in the United States, posting about “let’s focus on love and peace,” sharing a Black Lives Matter meme every now and then, it’s is not enough. That’s not allyship. That’s not anti-racism.

We need to dismantle systemic racism, and we need white people to be a part of that. In other words, dismantling racism involves the process of white people truly understanding their white privilege, their position in society, and the way they have benefited from white supremacy (regardless of whether or not they love all people of color, have a black friend, etc.) and act against it. We really need white people to understand this. If you are truly disgusted by Trump’s victory, and if you really want to be an ally in the anti-racism struggle, you have to recognize the dire need to attack the systemic, patriarchal and sexist white privilege that allowed him to be in this position in the first place.

I hope that white people will read this and not be offended (being offended is taking the easy way out), or feel attacked, but instead will be open to examining, interrogating, and helping us dismantle racism by being willing to take a look at what it means to be white, both historically and in the society we are living in now. Also, other people of color who for some reason are not really clued into the issue of racism or have bought into the façade of a post-racial “America,” this is for you too (especially those who voted for Trump).

Below I provide a list (which is by no means exhaustive) of books that you can read right now, that are helpful to understanding white privilege. I’ve also provided the link to Robin DiAngelo’s extremely important article on White Fragility, something everyone needs to understand in a Trump-led world.

Please read these, now.

We NEED you to do this.

Seeing White: An Introduction to White Privilege and Race by Jean Halley, Amy Eshleman, Ramya Mahadevan Vijaya

The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics by George Lipsitz

Silent Racism: How Well-Meaning White People Perpetuate the Racial Divide by Barbara Trepagnier

White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism by Paula S. Rothenberg

Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism by Regina Horsman

Systemic Racism: A Theory of Oppression by Joe R. Feagin

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

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Linda Alvarez is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Central American Studies at California State University, Northridge. She tweets from @LindaAlvarezPhD.

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