This is the paradigm shift that could stop racism

White people must seriously examine how they've managed to get through life without caring about racism.

ROBIN DIANGELO: The number one question I get when I give a talk is okay, okay, now what do I do? And that question has bothered me for a long time. One, to be really honest I think it's disingenuous. I don't think white people really want to know what to do unless it's the most simplistic thing which is just keeping friendly.

That question tends to function as a way to jump over the hard, personal work and just get to the answer or get to the solution. It's a little bit arrogant for folks who have never in their life thought deeply about this. And after an hour they want to get the answer and go fix it. At the same time we can't wait until we have it all figured out.

And so I will offer a challenging question back and then I will answer the 'what do we do?' So what I—my reply to that question is: What about your life has allowed you to be a full functioning professional educated adult and not know what to do about racism? How have you managed not to know? Why is that your question? People of color have been telling us this for a very long time. So that question is meant to be a challenge. It's also sincere. Take out a piece of paper and start writing down why you don't know. Probably on the first of your list is going to be I wasn't educated on this. Step one.

Two, I don't talk about race. Three, I don't really have relationships across race or not many. And when I do we don't talk about race. Five, I haven't cared enough.

There's your map and when you get to five, I haven't cared enough, if you can look at yourself in the mirror and say that then carry on as you always have but do it with honesty. If you can't look at yourself in the mirror and say I don't really care, great. Use that motivation to get involved. There's so much good information out there. My website is filled with lists and resources. So, probably the number one thing we could do next is take the initiative and go look it up.

I use this analogy sometimes. If you went to the doctor and the doctor said you have an acoustic neuroma, and then the doctor was called out on an emergency and left the room and the meeting ended. What would you do? Go home and Google the shit out of acoustic neuromas. Would you not? Would you watch every video you could? Would you get on every blog? Would you get on every Listserv? Would you even get a different opinion than whatever the doctor had given you? Yes. Why? Because you cared. I think it says something really profound about white people that just taking the initiative to look it up is somewhat revolutionary for us. But it is.

And I will never forget talking to a multiracial group and putting the question out to the people of color: "What would it be like if when white people ran their inevitable and often unaware racism, you could give us feedback on that and have us receive it with grace, reflect on the behavior, and seek to change it. What would that be like for you?" And I'll never forget this man of color raising his hand and saying it would be revolutionary.

And I just want my white listeners to take that in. Revolutionary. That's a pretty strong word for just receiving the feedback, reflecting, and seeking to change the behavior. That's how difficult we are, that that's a revolution. That's also how easy it is but we can't get there from the current paradigm. So work really hard to change your paradigm and not only will your interpersonal relationships change, so will our institutions because we will see that they do.

  • You can't jump over the difficult personal work required to examine your role in racism's presence in our society, says writer and consultant Robin DiAngelo.
  • Relying on easy answers from people around you won't solve the problem. DiAngelo compares this to your doctor delivering a diagnosis without an explanation. Wouldn't you take it upon yourself to learn about the ailment? Racism should be treated the same way.
  • Receiving feedback with grace, reflecting on it, and seeking to change the behavior should be the modus operandi for all white people. This process should not be revolutionary.

If you want to further your education on racism, you can access Robin DiAngelo's list of resources here.

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