Racial Justice: White People Against White Supremacy
By Dianne Anderson
Do white people really not know what it means to do the right thing?
Some do, and they are calling on others to join them.
Mike Tucker, with the Orange County Racial Justice Coalition, said that his group is committed to organizing and taking action. They are currently working with several civil rights groups, including the Orange County Chapter of the NAACP, the Orange County Center for Human Relations, and the ACLU.
Their movement is multi-racial, and they welcome anyone who wants to stop injustice.
“We are working through education, and taking action to improve things in Orange County. Some people care passionately about racial justice, and we’re working passionately for that,” he said.
Another effort they work closely with is WPAWS (White people against White Supremacy) to help break down misperceptions among whites. At least part of the problem is that some whites have difficulty differentiating between individual acts of racism and systemic racism.
Tucker said white people do not understand their position and privilege, and may have a hard time understanding what people of color experience.
Some of their outreach involves looking at the issue in a linear way of thinking, starting with his group’s not-so-light reading list: “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi or “The New Jim Crow” by Michele Alexander.
“We suggest those in the white community begin by educating themselves on racism in the United States. A typical white upbringing leaves white folk unaware of so much. It’s like fighting for racial justice with your eyes closed,” he said.
Kimberly Adams is co-founder of WPAWS, is white and has a bi-racial African American daughter.
She feels that whites must be brave and develop the inner work needed, and to speak to others about racism.
“Racism is a social construct created by our white ancestors and can only be dismantled by our white contemporary efforts,” she said.
Action includes self-education about systemic racism, as well as subtle and overt racism. They are also deep into an examination of the book, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, which helps break down racism into easily understandable concepts.
“In my work I see people baffled, struggling to see what is so carefully crafted and insidious,” she said.
When she first started the group, she said some people thought the name was much too harsh.
“What I said about that is – that’s what the situation is, that tells the truth. White supremacy exists,” she said.
“It’s a place for white people to understand white privilege and have these hard conversations about the violence and criminalization toward people of color,” she said. “We’re working to bring awareness.”
So far, the group and their focus are getting a good response, and they are learning what needs to be done, and how to address the disconnect.
“OCRJ and WPAWS work for that, that there definitely has to be action,” she said. “It’s not enough to not be a racist, you have to be an antiracist which includes action.”
Others may not readily understand the walls that divide them. Something is preventing them from seeing.
“The status quo, that’s what we’re working against. It doesn’t affect them, it’s not in their face,” Adams said.
But she believes that people do care. Someone at their last meeting talked about how they were discouraged for lack of movement against the racism they see raging strong in society.
“I pointed out books like How to be an Antiracist and White Fragility are best sellers. People out there are becoming aware, we just need to tap into that,” she said.
Michele Musacchio, who is Argentine, is a member of both groups. She said one of the main things that they’re trying to get across to white people is that injustice has a long-lasting reach.
She said the key is understanding how they have been socialized to be racist.
“White people need to understand that they’ve grown up in a racist society and they participate in it even if they don’t think they are,” she said. “It’s not about antipathy, that oh, I don’t like those people. It’s how are we participating?”
For more information, see https://www.ocracialjustice.com/wpaws