Wil, I’m a white guy, you’re a white guy, how do we help people understand not all white guys are dirtbags? How do we stop other white guys from being such dirtbags? Where can we make a space to educate our fellow white guys about how they are hurting others and themselves by being such dirtbags?
Step one: listen to women, especially women of color.
Step two: listen to non-white people when they tell us how white people screw up.
Step three: act on the things we learn when we listen.
Step four: NEVER NEVER NEVER just go along with some white person who is being a shitty garbage human because you don’t want to rock the boat. Call that shit out, and make sure they know that you won’t just stand there silently while they are racist, bigoted, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist, etc.
Step five: I’m serious about step four. These fuckholes feel empowered and protected by the silent and implied consent of other white people. Do not ever give them comfort or the feeling that they have a safe space to be racist, etc.
Step six: yeah yeah yeah free speech. That’s not the same as speech without consequences.
Step seven: Seriously, step four. You have to speak up, because when you don’t, you’re putting the burden of standing up to horrible white people on the very people they hurt and oppress.
I’d love to hear from anyone else, especially nonwhite people, who have other things to teach me and my fellow white people.
As a white woman, I wanna address the first part of that question: You don’t need to make anyone understand that not all white men are assholes. Trust me, we know #notallmen, etc. But honestly, you’re Schrodinger’s asshole. And chances are you still have a few dirtbag opinions hiding in the back of your mental closet that you haven’t gotten around to cleaning out yet. Everybody does. It’s a side effect of being white in a white supremacist society. We learn and accumulate asshole opinions and have to continually clean that stuff out.
So don’t be offended when someone doesn’t immediately recognize you as an #ally, when they’re cautious and maybe uncomfortable around you at first. Just accept that that’s them protecting themselves and work on making yourself the kind of person they feel safe around.
(Hint: If you get mad that they don’t trust you, they will never, ever trust you again, because it means that you still place your own feelings above their safety, and also that you don’t truly understand their situation.)
Like, I’m a lesbian, and as much as I understand that not all straight people are unsafe – my best friend is a straight girl, actually – even the most well-meaning straight person says dumbass things sometimes, so if a woman of color doesn’t want me in her space because I’m a white girl? I totally get that. Sometimes you don’t want to have to be on your guard just IN CASE your well-meaning white friend says some dumbass, bullshit thing and then you have to deal with that.
So, you know, work on yourself and your fellow white people, especially white men, and just let the rest of the chips fall where they may.