People of color need allies to become co-conspirators in eradicating racism

BRATTLEBORO — After a white supremacist attacked Shela Linton, a prominent African American racial justice activist, recently, you might be asking yourself, “Now what?” The threat of racial violence against Vermonters of color across the state is very real.

We all want the perpetrators brought to justice; however, justice for Shela and all survivors of racial injustice must move beyond the judicial system.

Now, if ever, is the time for white allies in the movement for racial justice to become co-conspirators in the movement, working to educate and eradicate racism within their own personal spheres of influence.

White allies much more concerned with public appearance will organize themselves, paint signs, march in outrage on behalf of solidarity with the survivors, and call for community dialogues.

Co-conspirators will organize themselves to engage white people they know or suspect to be openly or subversively racist in the one-on-one difficult dialogue on race and racism.

This is not a comfortable conversation in the safety of those who think like you, but with those whose thinking is oppositional. Co-conspirators directly inform these individuals that racist behavior is unacceptable and will take the time to educate these individuals on race and racism.

White allies will feign not to know anyone so openly or subversively racist in their personal spheres of influence. Worse yet, white allies are unwilling to seek out these individuals to engage.

Co-conspirators, in contrast, will seek out and engage local residents who openly display the battle flag of the Confederacy, who make offensive comments online, and who use racist “dog whistles” in everyday conversation.

White allies who know open or subversive racists will find convenient reasons not to engage: fear of losing their social standing, employment, or maybe even their own safety or property.

People of color in Vermont will continue to live under the threat of racially inspired violence and suffer daily indignities unless white allies choose to become co-conspirators for racial justice and engage where engagement really makes a difference.

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