The Race and Social Justice Initiative

The Race and Social Justice Initiative at the College of Charleston was founded in late June 2015 following a major grant from Google in response to tragic events in the Charleston, including the shooting death of Walter Scott by a police officer in April 2015 and the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in June 2015.

The mission of the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) at the College of Charleston is to promote public awareness and dialogue about race and social justice issues in the Charleston area, the state of South Carolina, and beyond, through a collaborative effort led by the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, Addlestone Library, the African American Studies Program, the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI), and multiple community partners.


From the RSJI Blog

Dear White People, Now That You Understand Your Privilege…

For the longest time people of color have been trying to get white people to realize that they have white privilege; and just recently, I’ve noticed more white people have accepted the fact that they do have it. However, the most exhausting and frustrating part about white people realizing that they have this privilege is their constant questioning of how do they use their privilege to dismantle white supremacy.

I find it puzzling when white people ask people of color how they should use their white privilege, as if it’s something new or different to them. People of color are not born with same societal privileges that white people are. White people are born into a system that assumes their superiority over those who aren’t considered White. White privilege allows white people to perform everyday tasks like shopping, working, and conversing with others, without having their social, political, or economic status and experiences questioned or challenged.

A few weeks back, College of Charleston’s Black Student Union held an event on white supremacy and topics surrounding white nationalism. I was surprised by the number of people that attended the event. And as white students began standing up and announcing they understood their white privilege to a crowd of emotional people of color, I couldn’t help but grow annoyed. Yes, I think it’s a great thing that white people are finally understanding that they have white privilege. It only took how many years? For me, it’s no longer enough for white people to acknowledge their white privilege. White people: Now that you understand this privilege, what are you doing with it?

I’m tired of having these same conversations about how white people should use their white privilege to combat white supremacy. There is no manual on how that should be done.

However, a good way to start would be having those conversations about race with racist family members at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Another way is to stop standing back and watching while the rights of people of color are denied and stolen.

And to the white people who actually understand their privilege and are using it to dismantle white supremacy and systems of oppression, could you teach other white people?

I hate to be cliché, but actions do speak a whole much louder than words.

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