Dear White Friend
By Serena Kim @goserenakim
Dear White Friend or Asian Parent,
Thank you for your interest in the struggle of African American people. Sometimes explaining the details of the violence and racism against Black people can be emotionally draining for me, especially in light of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and the list goes on and on.
But if you are genuinely interested, you can start with these suggestions to understand why Black Lives Matter so much. Now and always.
1.Start with Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States for context.
It’s a fast and furious history lesson from the point of view of the colonized, which covers a lot of different oppressed people. The activist and socialist author shows how the enslavement of African Americans was critical to the formation of U.S. capitalism.
2. Get acquainted with Malcolm X.
You can watch the movie directed by Spike Lee (see below), which should have won an Oscar. Even better, read the book by the man himself: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which covers different epochs in his racial awakening—from his relationship with Elijah Muhammad to his pilgrimage to Mecca.
3. Spend some time with Blues People.
Author LeRoi Jones aka Amiri Baraka, argues that Black slaves and their descendants developed blues music to resist white power and maintain a connection to the motherland. It’s still relevant in understanding the music of Black people today, from R&B to Latin trap.
4. Listen to Black protest music.
Black people have been making music that describes the struggle for generations (see above). All you have to do is listen. Back in the ’80s, KRS-one from Boogie Down Productions spit poetic knowledge of how police officers evolved from the slave patrol of the Old South. Make a Black Power playlist of your own, and make sure there’s plenty of Tupac and Kendrick Lamar on it.
5. Host a Spike Lee film festival for your other white friends.
If you’re still on lockdown, you can host an online watch party. You will fall in love with the characters on Do the Right Thing, Crooklyn, School Daze, She’s Gotta Have It, and the list goes on, because they are so relatable and real. His movies are powerful because they have told stories from a Black perspective long before it was the right thing to do.
I hope this list helps you. Keep learning, keep listening.