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A View from Here

Exploring Faith and Community • Macalester Plymouth United Church

June 26, 2020

Rev. Adam Blons

“Why is it that when black and brown people die, white people decide to form book clubs?” This was a comment made in a phone call I had this week with a white friend. Her comment invites us to notice the motivations behind some of the “work” we think we need to do as white people. Her point, of course, was not to suggest that there aren’t things we need to read and learn. Instead, it was to encourage us to look for learning beyond the written word.  

Over the last two weeks, I have been sitting with the question, “What are the behaviors of white allies in anti-racism work?”  

I did some searching and found a checklist for white allies written by Dr. John Raible, Associate Prof. of Multicultural Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  

At the top of the checklist, he writes: “I devised this checklist in the early 1990s. The idea for the checklist arose out of the need to articulate specific behaviors that led me to view certain individuals as “allies” in the struggle against racism. I came up with the checklist after thinking about what behaviors allowed me to develop a degree of trust with certain individuals, whether they identified as white people or as people of color.”  

A checklist does not teach you HOW to change your behavior, but gives you a way to reflect on what you are and are not doing. Reading this helped me name some of the behaviors that I want to work on like: recognizing racism as it is happening, making sure anti-racism work is part of the discussion at meetings, being objective and avoiding personalizing racial issues, and having joking relationships with individual people of color. It also names, in a separate section, some behaviors to avoid. I see myself all over those, too.  

Here is a link to the checklist: How might we support one another in learning and adopting more of these behaviors?