As a white person who accepts that racial capitalism and white supremacy are structural systems that need to be destroyed, I’m always asking the question, “but what can I DO” to change these systems? As I write this, we aren’t sure who won the presidential election. That said, of one thing I am sure: We all lost. The fact that so many people voted for Tr*mp is a betrayal, a pox on our houses, a stake in our hearts.
So, what can we do? I’ll talk about what I will do as a white woman with a professional class background. I hope each of you readers will also get clear about what you will do.
Everyone I know, and I mean everyone in my close and extended circles, are 100% anti-Tr*mp. So, I have been at a loss for what I might do on an interpersonal level. I mean, I’d talk to “that racist Uncle” if I had one.
On reflection, though, I realized what I could do is talk to those who are firmly anti-Tr*mp but believe Biden’s neoliberal policies are good, even to go as far as discussing why the policies are—and, therefore, why supporting those policies is—racist. I can talk about the institutional, systemic changes experts are saying we need. I can find out from them why they believe the things they do. So often, fear drives them to believe radical change is impossible, but they do actually want those radical changes.
Grassroots organizing happens in every area around every issue here in the USA. We white progressives should join current movements and support the work that is already happening. Union organizing is an example most of us can wrap our heads around (those of us who aren’t community organizers by trade). Bring people together to demand change.
Personally, as of this writing, I think I will focus on ranked choice voting and the electoral college. (I’d count on others to get money out of politics, but that needs to happen, too.) Most people want progressive policies, but it’s obvious too many are too afraid to fight for them. With ranked choice voting, we can feel free to vote for the candidates—even the “radical” candidates—without worry that we will add votes to the worst-case-scenario candidate.
The idea that the popular vote should decide elections isn’t radical to most of us. How to change our system from how it is now to one that uses the popular vote feels a lot like moving a massive tanker with a tugboat. I learned about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact last week and think it makes so much sense. Under this agreement, which would take effect as soon as states holding at least 270 electors sign on, “every voter in the country will acquire a direct vote for a group of at least 270 presidential electors supporting their choice for President. All of this group of 270+ presidential electors will be supporters of the candidate who received the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC—thus making that candidate President.” Organizers have been working on this for a long time, but not enough people know about it. Actually getting rid of the electoral college would be an enormous undertaking; this solution would be like moving the tugboat around the tanker instead of trying to move the massive ship.
Just as I need to tend to my spiritual life to continue on in recovery for my alcoholism, I need to tend to my spiritual life to continue on in my recovery from my addiction to whiteness. This means continuing to drill down into my own still-remaining biases, bigotries, and blank spots. For me, recovery from this addiction is a both/and situation. I need to take action for systemic change and continue improving who I am as a human being in a world of other humans.
As you are considering what you will do now, I invite you to stretch your imagination. The problems we are facing are so existential they can feel like they have no answers. Here’s an example of facing the truth but also using imagination for solutions: https://theintercept.com/2020/10/01/naomi-klein-message-from-future-covid/
[An evergreen reminder: I am a white woman writing about racism so I might share with other white people what I learn—mostly what I learn from Black, Indigenous, and other people of color—so we can all work toward societal transformation; our collective liberation.]
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Image by Toa Heftiba via Unsplash