Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

News

Racism 101 Asked And Answered: How Do I Support Black And Brown Friends Without Being Overwhelming?

 White protesters holding signs supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in Los Angeles.
White protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in Los Angeles.
(Chava Sanchez/LAist)
LAist relies on your reader support, not paywalls.
Freely accessible local news is vital. Please power our reporters and help keep us independent with a donation today.
WHAT IS RACISM 101?
  • We created Racism 101 to help our audience facilitate their own thought-provoking talks around race, with a conversation "starter kit," and extensive anti-racism resource guides to inform and educate. To field these questions, we assembled a panel of Angelenos willing to answer so folks didn't have to ask their friends, or even strangers.

We've solicited questions from our audience — awkward, tough-to-ask, even silly questions — that they've perhaps wanted to ask people unlike themselves but have been too shy, embarrassed or afraid to ask.

We received several questions about how to talk to and respond to friends when it comes to race.

Q: “How do I facilitate a conversation with my POC or immigrant friends about perpetuating prejudices against other minority groups?”

Support for LAist comes from

Q: "Is there such a thing as checking in TOO much on Black and Brown folks to support them?"

HOW OUR RACISM 101 PANELISTS RESPONDED

Q: “How do I facilitate a conversation with my POC or immigrant friends about perpetuating prejudices against other minority groups?”

Donna is a local artist who proudly identifies as Black and queer. She is passionate about helping others understand the effects of colonialism and slavery on today’s society, and breaking down the racial hierarchies caused by them.

“Race divide creates a system of ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ in efforts by the dominant culture to split up our power and influence. I appreciate that the term ‘BIPOC’ has emerged to replace the general and widespread use of ‘POC.’ Anti-Blackness is specific. Indigenous erasure is a devastating result of the ‘melting pot’ ideal.

“I have been guilty of buying into some of these lies: the 'model minority' myth, flippant 'ethnic ambiguity' snarks, respectability politics. A lot of POC give each other passes because of an implied shared trauma and those passes may exist in their friend groups, but don't translate to the outside world.

“I'd start with origin stories: Where are your friends from? What is their history with colorism? The police? Access to education? Class? That affects their worldview. Immigrant families have a different understanding of America than Black people brought here during slavery. Speaking multiple languages is seen as a sign of intelligence. But, consider who defines what languages make you smart.

“Examine who prejudices or stereotypes benefit. BIPOC communities are 'othered' in relation to who? It's very clear who these myths benefit if you introduce the ideas of power and privilege. By reflecting on things from these perspectives, your friends are saying, ‘I don’t accept a world, government, and society that classifies us, sees us as monoliths and dictates our qualities based on what we look like. And, I'm not giving them any more power.’”

Support for LAist comes from

Q: Is there such a thing as checking in TOO much on Black and Brown folks to support them?

Matthew is a multi-ethnic Afro Indigenous educator, poet and rapper. He co-founded the Spoken Literature Art Movement, an L.A.-based writing and performance workshop series, and currently teaches writing to incarcerated youth.

“I think it’s about the intent and why you’re asking ... If you’re already a person who’s doing active work in the community and supporting disenfranchised communities or just communities of color, I think that just naturally comes along with your work.”

Answers were edited for length and clarity.