What’s a white person to do?
Recently, I had the pleasure to participate in the Interplay Hip Hop Symposium at Lehigh University. The event was hosted by the inimitable hip hop theatre pioneer Kashi Johnson and keynoted by brilliant lyricist and hip hop educator Asheru. I gave a lecture about white appropriation of rap. My lecture led to a discussion about how white people fit into the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Together, we came up with these, the ten cracka commandments for 2015:
2. Always remember that white privilege is real, even if you do not understand it. Use it to convince other people that black lives, including black women's lives, matter. Show up for protests, write letters to representatives, and start discussions with other white people about black lives mattering.
3. Always remember that ignorance is real, and is a product of privilege. Treat the ignorant with compassion, but hold them accountable.
4. Never think that the critique does not apply to you. Just because you were at Barack’s inauguration and your dad was a freedom rider, or because you are the head of your local chapter of GLADD, that does not mean you do not have more work to do on yourself, your family, and your community.
5. Always remember that it is never a question of if violence, but whose violence are you going to defend. Unjust state-sanctioned and racist violence, or justified resistance; the choice is yours, the choice is ours.
6. Never tolerate racism from your friends or family. Whether it is coming from your eighteen-year-old friend, your thirty-one-year-old cousin, or your eighty-year-old grandmother, confront it always. Confronting racism does not mean you will lose your friend or family. It means you will help to make them act and think in less racist ways.
7. You cannot love cultural products without also loving the people who make those products. If you like black art or athletics, that appreciation is an entryway into recognizing that black lives matter.
8. Never quote black leaders like Dr. King in order to criticize protesters and activists.
9. Always embrace uncertainty. Life is uncertain; death is certain. Uncertainty promotes life; certainty produces death and destruction.
10. Never put white fragility ahead of justice. If you are more concerned to argue that you “aren’t racist” than you are with racism or with people dying, your priorities are skewed. Do you want justice or comfort?