When white people learn I do racial justice work is, the response I often get is “That’s great, but I stay away from race issues because I don’t think it’s my place to speak about it.” Given that white people create and maintain white supremacy, this view is simply not okay. We all have a responsibility to combat racial inequality, particularly in the current political climate.
White people forcibly brought Black people to America through the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Since slavery ended, we have maintained white supremacy through systemic discrimination like housing and education segregation, income inequality and mass incarceration. Society didn’t just happen to be structured to favor white people—that’s what we built it to do. So the onus is on us to rebuild the foundations of society to give all people an equal chance—or at least do everything in our power to do so.
There are plenty of problematic approaches white people can take when engaging on race (which I’ll get into later), so it's crucial for us to take leadership cues from people of color and put extra thought into our work. Still, fear of saying or doing the wrong thing cannot be an excuse for disengaging. We need to try our hardest, knowing mistakes are inevitable, rather than simply allowing the status quo to stand.