White Anti-Racists Are Not New
Clockwise from upper left: Fredrick Douglass, Mary White Ovington, Sitting Bull, Winona LaDuke, William Lloyd Garrison, Takao Ozawa, Yuri Kochiyama , Paul Robeson, Fred Ross and Cesar Chavez, Shirley Chisholm. Center: Dolores Huerta
White anti-racists have long been in the mix of those fighting for justice. Like so much about social justice movements and leaders, this was an unknown to me. I wonder if I'd known earlier about who these people were, the movements they were a part of, what drove them, what inspired them, who they worked in solidarity with, and what their impacts were, if I would've woken up sooner.
Role models are crucial in imagining ourselves in roles counter to what the status quo mainstream provides us. I had plenty of models of white women "not rocking the boat." I could've used some models of white women who prioritized justice over not-boat-rocking.
For that reason, when doing my flagship presentation, I'm A Good Person! Isn't That Enough, I always include this little collage. Always, white people in the audience ask, "Who is that? How did I never know about these people?" Initially I created it to remind myself that white people have long been part of justice movements, neither saviors nor absent. This is just a teeny tiny sampling of justice leaders through history. There are so many more whose stories deserve to be told in our schools and in our media.
The below lists were recently put on my radar. Please use and share them to help white people understand our anti-racist legacy, the white anti-racist shoulders we can choose to stand on.
If you have more examples of white anti-racists, please email Burnett.Lynn@Gmail.com (Cross Cultural Solidarity) or contact Teaching While White through their website.