George Zimmerman’s acquittal is prompting some surprising and disheartening social commentary. On the nigh of the verdict, I stayed up far too late reading, discussing, and thinking about the case. I’m glad I did, though, because I have decided to force myself to start talking more about race and racism, even though it’s a complicated subject that is hard for me to talk about well.

After the verdict, I posted this on my Facebook page:

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Text:

Tonight, join me in saying a prayer for the family of Trayvon Martin.

Then, let’s ask ourselves how each of us can confront and challenge racism as it exists today, wherever we live.

One of the ways I can confront and challenge racism more is to push aside my own awkwardness and complacency (both signs of my privilege as a white person) to talk about race, online and in my “real life.” I don’t want to do this from a perspective of, “I’m not racist, and here are the ways you can stop being racist,” point of view. I want to address it from a perspective of, “I am part of a racist system, I myself am the beneficiary of racism, I unknowingly and knowingly commit racist acts, and I want to contribute to the breaking down of this racist system.”

Here’s what I’m going to do:

  • I will not worry about becoming “that person” who talks about race and racism all the time online or in real life.
  • I will admit to myself and to others when I commit a racist act, whether I do it knowingly or unknowingly.
  • I will feature the voices of women and men of color on my blog.
  • I will purposefully diversify the syllabi in each of my classes to include more POC writers and scholars.
  • I will actively teach about racism in my classroom.
  • When I see someone I know being racist, I will confront their racism.
  • I will work to recognize my white privilege and use it for good.

What about you? If you are white like me, how will you confront and challenge racism where it exists today? If you are already part of this fight, what advice can you share?

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