White People, This Is Your Fault (But You Can Fix It)

You should’ve done more to keep people from voting for Trump

A Trump supporter wears a t-shirt depicting the U.S. president as Captain America during a protest in Miami, Florida on November 5, 2020. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

I’m about to go on a tear so, white friends, prepare for discomfort: This is your fault. Yes, you. You are responsible for perpetuating racism and division in the United States. You are the reason why the presidential race is so close and so many people voted to keep Trump in office.

There are so many places that teach you how to deep canvass, how to talk someone out of the bigotry that fuels Trump and his supporters. You could’ve gone to civil rights trainings where you learn how to actually talk to your conservative friends and family. You could have spent time with your conservative friends and relatives. People of color spend their whole lives listening to and centering white grief and white anxiety. You should’ve spent more time doing this.

You should have been the one to say to your white friends and family, “Hey, you know what? I used to believe what you believe. Let me tell you how that changed.” But no. Instead you just called your high school friend’s Facebook friend a “Karen” and a “dumb c*nt” instead of listening, understanding their pain and anxiety, and finding ways to help them think differently!

Deep canvassing is a learned skill. It works.

You could have asked, “Why are you scared of undocumented immigrants? Have you seen them ‘take’ jobs like yours? Have you seen an undocumented person get hired over you? No? If that’s the case, is that a credible fear? After all, you should be able to trust your experiences… ”

There’s so much you could have done instead of throwing your hands up and unfriending all your high school buds from rural Wisconsin. You could have done so much more than sharing memes or trolling. You could have said, “Hey, it’s hard to unlearn things, but it’s so worth it.” You could have shared with them about how letting go of bigotry and prejudice opened up opportunities for new friendships and amazing experiences that you would have never had if you had stayed set in your ways.

I could go on and on, but frankly, I’m not being paid to teach white people how to deep canvass. Go read up on it yourself. Join an activism group and get trained.

Listen to people like Christian Picciolini, a former white supremacist who works to understand the loneliness and anxiety that drives young white men to extremism. Learn that what pulls them away from extremism is love and compassion, not arguing and memes.

Learn about Daryl Davis, who has led 200 klansmen to give up their robes. He did it by inviting them to dinner and slowly but patiently showing them that their assumptions about the world weren’t accurate. You had four years!

Read up on how to support friends and family members who struggle with addiction. The techniques you can learn translate so well to deep canvassing because, in many ways, white supremacy is a kind of addiction.

Finally, don’t give up! Every human being is valuable and almost anyone can change (personality disorders and other severe psychological disorders notwithstanding). Hating Trump supporters and white supremacists does nothing but make you feel good. It doesn’t help anyone else.

Loving someone and being patient with someone is the best way to encourage them to think differently.

Loving someone and being patient with someone is the best way to encourage them to think differently, let go of their assumptions, and consider a different point of view. And for goodness sake, go get some flipping training! Get training first. You can actually do more to frustrate the process by doing it badly than by waiting and learning the techniques that work.

The election did not have to be as close as it is right now if more white people talked to each other instead of writing each other off or ignoring the signs of racism in their family. There are proven techniques for dealing with extremism. Deep canvassing is a learned skill. It works. I’ve been trained in it, I’ve done it, and I’ve seen it work. And you, white people, have to do this work. You have to start working to dismantle white supremacy, starting in your own communities, slowly, patiently, with compassion — and for good.

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