Ten things I learned from hard conversations about race and systemic racism in America
Monday, June 15, 2020
Last revised on: Wednesday, January 13, 2021
The past weeks have been a soul search for white America. I need to say thank you to black friends who have spoken to me, and apologize for being defensive at times – being defensive is what gives me the most pause to look in the mirror.
These acknowledgements – done in a simple form, as I think it’s more direct and effective – come out of many conversations and reflections:
No matter how bad we think it is for black America, it is far worse.
Stop saying “we,” as if black people are part of the systemic racism that exists.
Stop being defensive, as if you personally are not as bad as other white people. It’s irrelevant right now.
Pointing to black people in leadership positions is not an argument that things are better. Change and leadership matter more.
White America is the problem. Accept responsibility for having control of every major system, and fix it.
Because Cambridge is “better” does not mean we take a back seat to national reforms.
Think about the last time you thought it was the final straw for change – Trayvon Martin; Eric Garner; Rodney King – and stop thinking change just happens.
Listen to black people.
The goal cannot be things “calming down”; white Americans must own the change, and hold themselves accountable for it.
Because you have faced injustice or struggle does not mean you can claim “non-privilege,” nor does it matter if you are less privileged than other white people. They are different conversations.
Thank you to some friends who have impressed these things upon me, including Elijah Booker, Niko Emack-Bazelais, Tonya Banks, Ty Bellitti, Tony Clark and Isaac Yablo. I know I am a work in progress. I am not imposing any particular standard of leadership on anyone; each of us has their own road and our own burden to carry.
Anthony D. Galluccio is a Cambridge resident and a former mayor and state senator.