So one answer to the question What can I do? is simple: Listen. Believe.
“I had to stop talking to white people about race, because I kept getting retraumatized,” an African American friend told me about her days as a diversity trainer. “They just wanted to talk about why they weren’t racist.”
“It’s really important to recognize that race affects everything you do—and that to act otherwise is just naive,” says Julie Nelson, the director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (she’s white; her predecessor was an African American woman).
What Nelson says is this: If you’re white, you have to own it. None of this I’m-not-white, I’m-beyond-it-and-I’m-Norwegian stuff. White people have to see race according to the terms they actually benefit from. Not that whiteness is a monolith, any more than nonwhiteness is. As Mab Segrest writes: “Women are less white than men, gay people are less white than straight people, poor people less white than rich people, Jews than Christians, and so forth.” But what might matter, what should matter, is that whiteness is a real force that you’ve personally benefited from in one way or another if you’re white.
Source: The Stranger