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White People Must Fix White People

Dear Friends – Particularly White Friends,

Between the political attacks on our communities and the pandemic, the economic shutdown, and the fires, there is hardly anyone that hasn’t woken up feeling flattened in the past year. The hate and racism that people have experienced throughout history has been magnified. We are in the fight of our lives. But to say that this hate is new is coming from a place of privilege.

The crisis we face did not begin with Trump, nor will it end with Biden. Our economy was built on the backs of people of color: from violently taking land from indigenous peoples, to enslaving and then incarcerating Black people, to exploiting immigrant workers. White supremacy continues to permeate our economy and our democracy.

As a white ally faced with images of insurrectionists, it’s easy to think, “that’s not me.” But whether overtly prejudiced or not, all white people benefit from the system of white supremacy. In that sense, it is me — and it’s also my responsibility to work against it.

White supremacy is not an “alt” movement. It is the dominant system of power — one that protects certain lives while discounting others. White supremacy lurks behind every excuse for state-sanctioned violence against communities of color. It is the unspoken rule that locks our black and brown neighbors out of positions of power and economic opportunities.

White supremacy is a system so relentless that it is willing to discard not only 800,000 DACA recipients, but 11 million undocumented immigrants. It is powerful enough to keep 1 million black folks behind bars. And it keeps countless more workers of color toiling in dead end jobs and living in poverty. This system was set in motion long ago, and it still has momentum today.

Racism is not only propagated by neo-Nazis and conservatives. It is internalized by everyone, embedded in our economy, and replicated even in our movement. Fighting racism requires a sustained commitment to transforming ourselves and our communities. Weeding it out is a lifelong, multigenerational fight.

We are called to remember that good intentions are not enough – and to face challenge and discomfort to root out the “isms” which prevent the growth of a just economy and healthy communities. We cannot let our fear of saying or doing the wrong thing be an excuse for paralysis. Organizations like SURJ and the Catalyst Project exist for white people to learn, grow, and organize with other white people.

Fixing white people is not people of color’s responsibility — it is ours.

This moment calls on us to be bolder. In EBASE’s vision, everyone’s work, home, school, and neighborhood will be sanctuaries. “Community” will be less about policing and more about sharing in life’s celebrations and heartaches. We will overcome the myth of scarcity to see that communities of color can thrive in the abundance of this country. We dream of a world that offers safety and opportunity for all people — not just those deemed worthy.

Until this vision is realized, we will hold each other. We will stand together. Thank you for standing with us and for committing to organizing that transforms each of us as it does the systems in which we work. Like generations before us, we will overcome the current attacks on our communities and we will win.

In solidarity,

Kate O’Hara

EBASE Executive Director