This past 4th of July a lot of people who once celebrated the holiday no longer celebrate the holiday. One of the many reasons why is because it was a period of history when only the rich white man was free. Some people aren’t on board with the decision to boycott the 4th because they are either racists, or they simply don’t understand the principle of this boycotting. A lot of people also feel the need to wake up other Black people and nonwhite people who still celebrate the tradition and fall victim to white supremacy in other forms. Either way one thing must be understood when trying to change the mindset of people. It takes several steps and patience. It takes empathy. It takes dedication to the cause.
Below I have 5 ways we as a collective Black community can educate/wake up our fellow brothers, sisters, and allies in a way that doesn’t seem forced or overwhelming.
1. Talking to people of a different a generation
Throughout the years, there have been different stories told about the history of this country. These stories have been passed down from generation to generation. Just like the game of telephone, there is bound to be misinformation spread throughout the process.
In order to open up dialogue about these differences in information, maybe start off by asking questions about what the other generation you are speaking with was taught in school. This will get them talking about their school lives and over all life experiences more than likely. If you know the information they were taught is false, don’t shun them for being misled by the white washed education system.
You should share some stories about your experience with miseducation to show you are not appearing as better than. The goal is to appear as a person who is hear to help. Then, you should offer the truth about our history in small amounts while also remaining open to the possibility that the person or people you are attempting to educate may not be accepting at first or may have their own information to offer. Do not pry but do keep trying.
Cinema has always been used to push messages, influence the way we think, and push information out into the masses. Some of these films and shows are also responsible for perpetuating a stereotypical narrative of Black people. I’m not suggesting you use those at all when trying to wake people up in a serious matter. If you want to soften the conversation up, I would mention the often comedic yet stereotypical cinema while also mentioning why they are hurting the image of the Black community.
There are many pieces of cinema about racial injustice that are easier to stomach, great attention keepers, and they will more than likely leave the audience thinking about the more important message such as police brutality, gender violence, mass incarceration etc. This is a good way to get people who aren’t so aware of the things that are happening in the world today to sit down and pay attention to it in a different way. It is also a good way to start the dialogue with those who don’t like to have the more serious talks.
3. Ask Questions Before Judging
A lot of issues that come with trying to change someone’s mindset is that we approach with a punitive mindset ourselves. We think that things like police brutality, mass incarceration, patriarchy, and other forms of white supremacy are automatically easily seen as wrong doings to Black people in the eyes of Black people. We must remember that there is media and other influences working to convince Black people everyday that we are the bad guys and we deserve less.
I propose when trying to start a conversation about being more conscious about white supremist culture, ask questions like:
“Why do you believe that this way of thinking is justified?”
“Where did you learn about your Black history?” “Do you think about questioning this source of information?”
“Can you help me understand your thinking?”
“Do you wish to learn more about the history of this country?” “Do you wish you knew more about Black history?”
It’s important to follow up with non-offensive feedback and dialogue that isn’t overwhelming to the person you are talking to in order to keep the ideas presented and the conversation flowing.
4. Don’t Intentionally Spread Misinformation
Throughout the Black community and many anti black communities, there are people who have been miseducated by conspiracy theories, government propaganda, and fake news. Information that comes from these platforms are often false and placed there to divide the Black community against each other.
I’m not saying you aren’t entitled to your opinion or believing what you believe; however, portraying fake news, conspiracy theories, etc as facts is detrimental to those who are gullible to any information thrown at them.
5. Work Everyday Not to be a Bigot
You don’t have to be a follower of the Black movement to want to educate yourself about the things that are going on in the world. Not every piece of information you get should come from the media. There are books. There are actual people you can talk to and hear real life testimonies of the ways people have been affected by white supremacy in many ways.
The way you can work to not be a bigot is to talk to and listen to people who don’t share the same experiences as you. It’s not okay to force your opinions on others. It is okay to have an open dialogue about your opinions with others and find some kind of common understanding.
It’s important to have dialogue that will better this society. Use these steps to make an effort.