An Open Letter to My White Friends

By Ke’Ana Lampkins

Our black bodies have been dying at the hands of white men and the implicit biases of white women. The structured tower of institutionalized and systemic racism stands on their backs. White extremist groups have infiltrated our communities disguised as peaceful protestors to incite violence and looting. This has detracted from the truer image of peaceful protesting for justice that many and most African Americans were trying to achieve. 

If you watch the news,  almost immediately you’ll hear about protesting and violence simultaneously. The unfortunate part is that they are not simultaneous. These white extremist groups have literally shifted the focus from equality and police brutality against black bodies to blackness equating violence (and stealing). I’ve come across many articles discuss how the majority of the violence caused has been at the hands of white people, not black. So far, at least two white people have been arrested for said violence. They also discuss how the arson and looting were pre-planned in many cases, also not by Black people. But guess who is taking the blame? People all over the world are terrified of the protests and protestors, but their fears are misdirected towards the oppressed. That is what prejudice and implicit bias look like in real life, in real-time.

The problem isn’t the fear many are feeling, but it’s the implicit bias that the violence stemmed from Black protestors. Some are aware enough to recognize what is happening, but the media has purposely maximized the vantage point that many already see African Americans as dangerous and violent. All over the news, we were bombarded with images of looting instead of coverage of the thousands of peaceful protests that are taking place.

The icing on the cake is that we also see white officers yelling, “we’re nothing like that guy.” For an entire day, I watched my local news stations feature white male officers who joined the fight and walked alongside their local protestors. Some took a knee, others walked alongside, and others offered a hug. While that’s great, the bigger issue is, they are like that guy. While some may have been bold and taken action, the implicit bias, prejudice, and discrimination in the police system they uphold are all the same. When they see a big black man, they see violence. They see something to fear.  They see criminals. 

Until you have a conversation about why the killings are happening and take steps to change our criminal justice system, the killings will continue. And that same cop that held your hand during the protest will be the same cop that arrests you because Karen thought you were trying to steal her parking space or because you were bird watching. 

One can only hope for change and reform, but I can guarantee it will take place if white allies stand up and take a stand for justice. It’s time you use your power for good. Don’t just check on your Black friends to make sure they are okay. Call your grandpa that made that racist joke last Christmas and explain why it’s racist. Tell him why your Black friend and all Black lives matter.

All over the world, people are speaking up against the injustices Black and Brown bodies face every day. I’ve had a handful of my white friends ask me what they can do to help. Protesting is good, yes. Bailing out protestors who have been arrested is also good, yes. But what I want even more is for them to have the difficult yet crucial conversations with their supervisors, pastors, mayors, friends, and family about why this nation is where it is today. Explain, how my son and husband can go out for a walk and one of them may not return.

It’s time to use your privilege for good. Address your own biases, figure out why saying “I’m colorblind” does more harm than good, learn why reverse racism isn’t a thing. This is the time to do more and to be more. Speak up, please. Our sons, daughters, husbands, sisters, bodies rely on it.

Ke’Ana Lampkins is a contributing writer for The Pedestal Project, LLC. Ke’Ana is a Christian, wife, and mother dedicated to empowering young girls and women through counseling, mentorship, and education. Connect with her on Instagram @Beautifully_Yanni.

Photo Credit: Callum Shaw

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