White People:

  1. Listen and defer to the judgment of those affected by police brutality and other forms of racism.
  2. Accept the accounts of victims as true, without playing “devil’s advocate.”
  3. Acknowledge that human beings are flawed and do things all the time that their loved ones would never expect. You may have a family member, friend, significant other who is a police officer and you want to defend that person. I urge you to recognize that people have many sides you never see, and may react completely differently when their adrenaline is going, when they’re behind closed doors, or when they are surrounded by bad influences. No human is totally immune from incorrectly assessing a situation and responding in ways rooted in societal conditioning—especially when that person has not recognized that every person has underlying biases that require compensatory actions to not inflict on those the person is biased against.  ALSO, if your loved one is an officer who doesn’t inflict brutality on black people you should still be an ally for change here—your loved one should want to get rid of every officer who inflicts and ignores brutality. Lastly, your approval isn’t required to make this cause legitimate.
  4. Educate yourself on this issue by doing research, and following people at the forefront of this battle (I’ll tag some in this post). Note—it’s not the job of black people to educate white people on this, we must be proactive in educating ourselves by researching unbiased sites/books/podcasts about repeatedly substantiated claims of police brutality. The studies showing how prominent of an issue this is are abundantly thorough and easy to find. Read them. There are some great podcasts out there. There are movies and tv shows made by people of color who address this in the most accurate way—watch them.
  5. Support black owned businesses, and financially support (and physically support, in volunteer form when invited) organizations and non-profits that serve the black community.
  6. Don’t ignore this issue after the news cycle has moved on. People of color can’t. Feigning outrage only to abandon the cause later is a chosen action of white privilege.
  7. Identify the moments in your life where your prejudice was showing or felt. Going back to #3, you must understand that people are conditioned to feel or internalize people and situations in certain and complex ways. It is your job to correct the course of these thoughts and choose actions to stop discrimination in its tracks. As a therapist and attorney, I was trained to know that every person has bias. To not admit this is the same as perpetuating racism.
  8. There’s no “but most cops are good” needed in this conversation. This issue is addressing the bad cops, including those who witness police behaving dangerously and brutally and do nothing. To argue this flies in the face of all those affected by police brutality. It also dismisses the voices of black people who had to worry about and deal with this issue their entire lives. As a white person, you may think the police are great because you were treated nicely by them. But people can treat two individuals completely differently. To say cops are nice because they are nice to you is shortsighted. There were people who thought Harvey Weinstein was nice. Many serial killers’ neighbors thought the killers were nice. You can’t know how someone treats others. And also, the focus is on police who commit brutality and act out of racism. The “good cop” argument is irrelevant because from the start this cause has been about ousting the bad cops and identifying how racism is systemic and invasive to this country’s freedom.

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