A New Feature at the End of My Blog Posts

When I started this blog, it was with the goal of educating people on injustices we may be blind to and/or blindly commit. However, in recent months especially, I’ve been thinking about whether education all by itself is really enough.

Now don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t considering abandoning my blog after all the work I’ve done over the years. Nor do I think that education is unimportant—it is important that people are educated on issues of injustice so that we can address the issues within ourselves (If I didn’t believe that to be the case, this blog wouldn’t exist!). Yet, at the same time, that education is only of limited use if we only keep the impacts of said education to ourselves. Simply put, education of oneself without doing anything else doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t change anything or anyone other than possibly ourselves, and it certainly doesn’t lead to the sort of large-scale changes that are needed to address large-scale issues. For all that one might feel virtuous for being more educated on matters of racism, sexism, ageism, or any other number of things, it takes more than one virtuous person to see the changes one may desire to come to fruition.

I therefore found myself thinking much more about how to turn education into action and how to further amplify the voices of those who are working tirelessly on various issues of injustice. Of course, that action can take multiple forms. Sometimes the action is in donating to an organization that would use the funds to work on systemic changes. Sometimes the action is in giving volunteer hours to an organization looking to achieve systemic change. Sometimes the action is in being a volunteer to knock on doors, attend protests, or call elected leaders to hold them accountable for something. The sort of help that is needed in advancing a cause varies from organization to organization and from movement to movement, but one thing I can assure you of is that there are many ways to turn education into action. I just needed to find a way to share with others where we can turn education into action.

It was through this thinking that I came up with a new idea for my blog: with blog posts where it is clear that one or more organizations are looking to address a particular injustice/injustices I am discussing, I list those organizations at the bottom of the blog post.

The new practice is intended to serve people who may be passionate about a particular injustice or set of injustices after reading one of my posts (or reading something not on my website) but are really unsure of where to go next. By having this new practice going forward, I hope to provide a place for my readers to go beyond the “like” button for my blog post or the comment section (though I certainly welcome “likes” and comments).

My hope in having this is that what I will do from now on can be a resource for people who want to turn education into some form of action. While yes, this blog is and will continue to focus on educating people about injustices, I also want to be sure that my readers have the ability to act after getting educated. After all, education only reaches its maximum usefulness if you use it to educate others and/or take action yourself.

What Is…White Guilt?

Some terms are criticized as social justice jargon. However, many of these terms are important to know about and understand. One such term is white guilt.

Dictionary.com offers a concise definition of white guilt: it is “the feelings of shame and remorse some white people experience when they recognize the legacy of racism and racial injustice and perceive the ways they have benefited from it.”[1] While it sounds well-intended in certain ways—after all, it recognizes racism and injustice and ways white people like me have benefited from it—white guilt can also be extremely problematic in certain ways.

But why can white guilt be problematic?

The problem is that in many cases, feelings of shame and remorse can be so great that they prevent one from doing anything about the racism and racial injustice that’s so upsetting to begin with. While it is important to recognize racism and racial injustice around you, especially if you recognize some of the ways it benefits you, it’s counterproductive to be so upset about those systems of injustice that you feel unworthy of playing your part as an ally in the larger effort to ensure that Black lives matter. After all, the goal is not to wallow in guilt, but to turn the recognition of injustice into anti-racist action.

It’s also worth noting that one of the criticisms I often hear of white guilt is that white guilt doesn’t turn into white action.[2] That’s something to be conscious of, if you, like me, are white. It’s important to be conscious of the fact that it’s not enough to simply recognize how racial injustice benefits you, nor is it enough to feel guilty about how racial injustice benefits you. Instead of simply recognizing how racial injustice benefits you (or even feeling guilty about that), donate to and/or volunteer for racial justice organizations, attend Black Lives Matter marches (while practicing mask-wearing and social distancing, of course), vote for candidates who have an extensive platform on racial justice, and educate your own friends about the systems of racial injustice you’ve noticed yourself, among other things. In doing these activities, however, please note that it’s not about you or about erasing your guilt, but about racial inequality (because for too many people attending a protest march, for example, is about making them look like the “good people”).

In addition to the volunteering, marching, voting, etc., however, I also recommend that people struggling with white guilt should process those feelings with other people who have struggled with white guilt themselves and managed to turn that guilt into racial justice action. While it may be tempting to talk about your white guilt with anyone and everyone to show how “woke” you are, the most productive and healthy way of processing and overcoming white guilt is probably by talking with people who have that shared experience with you.

So, for those who are still struggling with white guilt, I know how you feel. I was there, and I can sometimes still be there. I just hope that you will be able to turn guilt into action, for guilt without action does nothing.


[1] https://www.dictionary.com/browse/white-guilt

[2] Some, such as Ciarra Jones, the author of a widely-read Medium piece on white guilt, argue that white guilt can even impede upon white action: https://medium.com/@ciarrajones/the-violence-of-white-and-non-black-poc-apologies-d1321c0ccb8e

On So-Called Slacktivism

Many of my readers have probably heard the term “slacktivism” by now—a term used to characterize “the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions, characterized as involving very little effort or commitment.”[1] We will probably hear that term even more leading up to elections in November as some of us shame others of us for being “slacktivists.”

That being said, I am going to do something here that may ignite some controversy. I am coming to the defense of so-called slacktivists—some of them.

But why?

The short answer is that there are many people who don’t have the time or ability to do anything more than sign an online petition or do other online activism, and that should be respected instead of degraded.

A longer answer must explore life circumstances that result in someone not being able to do more than what many activists call slacktivism:

  1. Professional responsibilities. I have heard about my fair share of midday rallies and protests (and have even been at a few of them). The only problem is that such rallies can’t be attended even by someone who works a normal 9-5 job, unless that person lives in the area of the rally and is able to take a lunch break during the rally. Evenings and weekends give better access to rallies for regular 9-5 workers, but there are still many people who work weekends and/or evenings instead of, or in addition to, 9-5 work. For people who are at work while rallies and protests happen, the most they can do is what’s labeled as slacktivism, and that should be respected.
  2. Family responsibilities. Parents have to take care of their children and other family. Grownups have to make sure that all the utility bills are paid for their houses, or that rent is paid for their apartments. These responsibilities exist in addition to, not instead of, professional responsibilities. Some rallies have tried to take away the burden of parents taking care of children by including childcare at rallies (though I’m sure some parents would feel uneasy about the thought of leaving their child or children in the hands of complete strangers, and I might feel the same way when/if I become a parent). Once one combines professional responsibilities with family responsibilities, then there may be little time to do more than so-called slacktivism, and that fact shouldn’t be demonized.
  3. Physical limitations. Some people are flat-out physically unable to get to, or participate in, a rally or protest. Back when I had my bad ankle earlier this year, I was one of those people. I know many others who, like me during my bad ankle, would’ve been completely unable to participate in rallies and protests even if we wanted to. Sometimes, slacktivism is the most that some of our bodies can handle.
  4. Emotional limitations. There are some rallies that may be emotionally just too much for people. For example, a rally protesting gun violence may be too much for some family or friends of people who’ve been victimized by gun violence. The emotional limitations that bring people towards slacktivism, and away from what many activists view as activism, should be respected.

I acknowledge that there are, no doubt, many people who are capable of more than the signing of online petitions and involvement of online movements that is often associated with slacktivism. Such people who are capable of higher levels of involvement should be more involved. However, I hope that my list brings to mind the fact that there are probably millions of people in the United States who are unable to do anything more than what is labeled as slacktivism. Those people should not be demonized for what they’re unable to do, but thanked for what they are able to do.


[1] https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/slacktivism