Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, many white Americans are afraid to ask―yet which all Americans need the answers to, now more than ever.
With the same open-hearted generosity that has made his video series a phenomenon, Acho explains the vital core of such fraught concepts as white privilege, cultural appropriation, and “reverse racism.”
In his own words, he provides a space of compassion and understanding in a discussion that can lack both.
He asks only for the reader’s curiosity―but along the way, he will galvanize all of us to join the antiracist fight.
Scroll down to read 30 Quotes from Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho.
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30 Quotes from Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho
Ending racism is not a finish line that we will cross. It’s a road we’ll travel.
A world without racism is being in one country, on one continent, in one world celebrating life together, wherever we’ve come from to get there.
Figure out when to step back and quiet down. If you’re normally quiet, you might want to challenge yourself to step up in a conversation. If you normally share a lot, you might want to challenge yourself to step back and do more listening.
We must all see color to see racism.
Color and ethnicity are part of what makes people human, and to deny any of us our particularity is to deny our humanity.
As Toni Morrison said, race is, if nothing else, human.
Racism has always been about power. Which is to say, we invented racism. Which is to say, maybe we can learn to uninvent it, too.
Every protest you attend, each time you stick up for a black person on your job, every person with whom you have a real conversation about race, all of those things are marks in the win column. The important thing is to just keep showing up.
The conversations of allyship start with the self, with those tough internal monologues.
True allyship demands that it move from conversation to action.
Make sure you aren’t engaged in optical allyship—the kind that goes only so far as it takes to get the right post for social media.
True allyship is a commitment to fight this fight for the long haul: long after it ceases to be a top-of-the-fold news item, long after the cameras have stopped capturing it.
An ally is a person from an empowered group who acts to help an oppressed group, even if it costs them the benefits of their power.
The lesson there is that being an ally means showing up.
The bottom line: our criminal justice system too often treats black people like thugs instead of like people. So the cycle perpetuates, and both stereotypes and actual violence keep going and going and going.
Vote, vote, vote, vote like your life depends on it. Like our lives depend on it. They do.
Know that saying “All lives matter” means arguing that we’re still not defaulting to white enough.
When people proclaim that black lives matter, it’s not about saying white lives don’t matter. It is a given in this country that they do. What black people are really and truly saying is that black lives matter as well as white lives.
Systemic racism is hard to talk about because it seems so big, so pervasive. And it is.
No one can fight systemic racism alone. It’s too big and in too many areas. On the flip side, that means there are a million ways to help.
Dismantling systemic racism is nothing short of dismantling white supremacy. It’s going to take a herculean effort by all of us to tear it down.
If the first goal here is to stop being ignorant, the second goal is just to learn more about one another. And that can be a lot of fun.
Avoid lumping people into groups in general. Meet your peers as individuals. Affirm people’s particularities and differences. That’s what makes us human.
Learn how to move beyond being not racist, to being antiracist.
Everything great is birthed through discomfort.
It’s like riding the New York subway: if you see something, say something.
If your office doesn’t have a diversity and inclusion team, push for one.
If your goal is to fight racism, to help foster an America that isn’t built on white privilege, then you’ll have to do your part.
The beautiful thing about the piano is that you got white keys and you got black keys. And the only way to make the most beautiful, magnificent, and poetic noise is with both sets of keys working in tandem.
If we can truly integrate white people and black people together, working in tandem, that’s when our world will make its joyful noise.
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