Why Mobilizing Allies is a strategy worth investing - a Facebook exchange

July 2, 2017

An announcement was made this morning about the Race to Engage, Independence Day Edition. The core of the challenge was to encourage allies to eliicit perspectives from 10 people about the relationship between racial progress and patriotism. The initial announcement went out to several networks and many friends on FB. An exchange ensured that may help explain the thinking about the project. 

A woman responded to the notice with a response showing some understandable skepticism about the contest. and by extension perhaps, the overall project.

"And after the white folks discuss race? seems to me the white folks been talking race on a regular basis about every second generation. as in, when scary Black men got in our faces 50 years ago, and now some scary Black dykes, of all things! "white ally" will never mean anything to me but someone with no skin in the game unless they choose it. thus, the educational approach makes sense--"if only white people really understood race as it plays in the usa, they'd behave themselves better" is a VERY useful fiction that is popular again (yes, we did this 80, 70, 60 years ago...). one of the consequences of that fairy tale is that generation after generation of white "allies" suck foundation money up like sponges, while dangerous-to-the-status-quo orgs led by people of color go begging. so what else is new? "

We responded as follows:

"At this point, 50 percent of white people think that racism against whites is just as big of a problem as racism against POCs. (To illustrate the divide, 32 percent of white republican s think that blacks face discrimination, while 77% of white democrats think this.) This project is based on the idea that moving that 50% portion in the right direction will require millions of private conversations with white folks who, at a very basic level, get it. They must also have strategies on those conversations different than just telling folks they are wrong or stupid. Of course, creating millions of strategic conversations might not be an effective way to approach this, or the best way. What do u think are other paths forward with a reasonable chance of success in moving those numbers? 

 The idea is not that the strategy of moving white public opinion should be the only strategy. It is only one strategy of many that need investment, given the huge magnitude of the racial equity problem."

An additional fan of the page added this:

"I was going to say that the idea that improving race relations is capable of only one solution, or that approaches are in competition, rather than complementary, to each other, is very problematic to me. I believe Both interracial dialogue and interracial dialogue are necessary predicates to move us forward, ever so slowly. We can't progress if we don't talk, and sometimes that conversation has to be with misinformed whites who are more willing to listen to someone who shares their skin color--sad, but true."

David Campt