I'm sickened by the white supremacist march and terror attack in Charlottesville.
Some young people went out to protest against the white supremacists, and if you feel like that's a thing you can do, you are a hero and this post is probably not necessary for you.
But I know there are a ton of well meaning white people with kids and/or jobs who don't feel like they can go out and put their bodies on the line in a protest. I get that. So this post is for you. Here's some stuff you can do.
1.Admit it's our problem. If you are a college-educated white person, it's very tempting to write these behaviors and beliefs off as something that poorly educated, rural, poor white people do. But man--look at the photos. That's not who these guys are. Middle class white people: those guys are us. We can't pretend they're not our problem. They are our sons, brothers, and husbands, and they've embraced a radical ideology of hate. Don't wait for somebody else to fix this shit. This is our mess, and we need to clean it up.
2.Have an honest conversation. With yourself. It's very tempting, as I said, to assert that white supremacy is someone else's problem. But if you grew up white in the USA, this poison is inside of you. Now, I'm not saying go to some "diversity training" (I've been to a lot of these, but never one that was done well) or have difficult conversations with other people. I'm talking about challenging yourself. You will see and hear things that will cause visceral reactions in you because of the white supremacy that seeped into your brain whether you like it or not. You may be ashamed of these visceral reactions. (Indeed, you probably should be). But labeling them shameful doesn't make them go away. Spend some time with yourself and really examine why you feel that way.
I'm being vague here so as to protect myself: I've done a lot of thinking about some shameful attitudes I couldn't escape as a white person in this society, but I'm not going to cop to them publicly. What I did do, though, was cop to them to myself. I encourage you to do the same. Spend some time thinking, when you're walking the dog, or on the treadmill, or driving somewhere, about why you have emotional reactions that are at odds with your professed beliefs. This is really something I think you have to do on your own. Most of us are not willing to be vulnerable enough to admit the very worst thoughts and feelings that lurk in our reptile brains to another person. That's okay. But admit them to yourself. Drag them out into the light and look at them. You'll probably never be able to get all the poison out of your own veins. But if you acknowledge it as poison, you can at least stop yourself from passing it on.
3. Prioritize diversity for your kids. Everyone wants what's best for their kids. I'd like to encourage middle-class white people to broaden their ideas about what that means. For a lot of people, it means going to elementary and middle schools where you'll be "prepared" to go to a majority-white high school where you'll be "prepared" to go to a "good" college. I would just like to argue that living in a diverse country and appreciating diversity are important skills that most of those schools don't prepare kids for. If your kid gets a 5 on the calculus AP and goes on to be that Google Bro Manifesto guy, has he really had a good education?
Let's face it--(And I say this as a high school teacher): most of the facts you learn in high school are trivia. The stuff that sticks with you for a lifetime are the interactions with your friends, and maybe some ways of thinking that you picked up along the way. If your school isn't diverse, it's going to fail your kids in this important way. But okay--you already shelled out for a mortgage in the all-white town with the "good" schools. You can still make sure your kids participate in extracurriculars that are diverse. There are plenty of diverse sports and arts activities out there. Instead of sending them to the same all-white day camp that "everybody" in your town goes to, why not try something in a different community that's going to require you to sit with parents who don't look like you while your kids play or learn together? This stuff matters. A lot. If you say all the right things but your kids never interact with anyone who's not like you, guess which message they're going to pay attention to?
4.Fight misogyny. This is really part of the other points, but it's worth breaking it out on its own. Misogyny and white supremacy are really a two-headed beast. It's no accident that the biggest insult the white supremacists like to toss around these days is "cuck." That is to say, a white man who can't stop his white wife from having sex with black men. This is such a frank glimpse into the ugliest part of these guys' psychopathology that I'm kind of surprised they parade it around so freely. But--if women don't belong to men but are full human beings free to have sex with whoever they want, then this insult and the entire mindset behind it collapses. Like white supremacy, misogyny is a poison that everyone who lives in this society has inside them, (even women!) and making this world a better place means rooting that shit out. One of the beefs these neonazi guys have with the world is their idea that they are being denied the sex that they are entitled to. Where did they get the idea that anybody owes them sex? Where did they get the idea that women are property instead of free humans who have every right not to have sex with creepyass guys? Was it from you?
This is not an exhaustive list. I'm sure there are a lot of other things we all can and should be doing. Maybe you don't like my list. That's fine. But please. Do something.