Small Things I Do FWIW

  • I shop at the Family Dollar or Dollar Tree or the downtown Walgreens rather than the ritzy Walgreens because one does not have to exercise class privilege just because one has it.
  • I choose to place myself in situations where I’m the only white person around—such as my Ob-gyn’s office—because I need to be constantly reminded of what it’s like for Black folks so much of their lives.
  • I always try to say “Yes, Sir” and “Yes, Ma’am” to African-American clerks in a vain attempt to make up for the decades of Southern “etiquette” that prohibited such a thing.
  • I look at the world through racial lens because I know from whence I came and awareness is necessary.
  • I try to recognize the dominant narrative—e.g., beneficiaries of charitable organizations must “voluntarily” bear grateful witness to the organizations helping them—and not get sucked into the emotion of it.
  • If I have an option, I do business with businesses I know are owned by African-Americans because so many white people don’t.
  • I fight back against the attempt to place me in the role of “white savior”—one time, I told a reporter three different times, no, you can’t interview me; if you want to know about the Door of Hope Writing Group, you need to interview a member of the Door of Hope Writing Group. Finally, she did.
  • I don’t tend to share these things because to do so gives into my white need to be liked and viewed as a “liberal” supporter of racial equality and credited for my honesty.
  • I also choose to do these things because they can be undertaken without conflict, so they’re easier for me.
  • It’s a mighty small list.


Small Things I Do FWIW — 10 Comments

  1. Maybe not so small. And in any case a start and an emerging awareness. Breaking through our own culture and seeing it from those who are oppressed is really hard for most of us white folks–even though we know KNOW! all about racial injustice and persistent racist attitudes. We must undertake our own struggles and you are showing us the way.

  2. Ellen, your list is not as small as it seems! You are embodying what Gandhi advised all those years ago, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I wish more people would take up that practice, especially in these dark days.

Your comments change this post from words hanging in the air to a conversation. What do you think?