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Rise to the Challenge to Do Better

By Anna Themanson, LCPC, CADC

Black Lives Matter

The tragic losses of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others this year have led people to take a critical look at their own beliefs and biases. Many were left feeling deeply devastated, not knowing what steps to take to fight against police brutality and systemic racism. The Black Lives Matter movement has helped produce countless resources to examine how we can better support the Black community and how we may have helped perpetuate racist systems. 

In the Marie Claire article, “On Making Black Lives Matter” Roxane Gay states, “Black people do not need allies. We need people to stand up and take on the problems borne of oppression as their own, without remove or distance. We need people to do this even if they cannot fully understand what it’s like to be oppressed for their race or ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, class, religion, or other marker of identity.” White people specifically need to actively work towards dismantling racist systems that sustain discriminatory practices.

How do we do that?

First, we need to acknowledge our white privilege. I, as a white woman, will never understand what it feels like to be discriminated against because of the color of my skin. However, I do recognize that I have benefitted from the color of my skin in many ways over the course of my life. This does not mean that white people do not face adversity, but it does acknowledge that being white is not what has made their lives difficult. It is important to acknowledge white privilege in order to begin taking steps to lift up Black voices, de-center yourself in conversations around racism so as to avoid becoming a white savior, and use your privilege to advocate for change in spaces where Black and other marginalized voices are not represented.