By Ray Arata | Founder of Better Man Conference | May 26, 2022

Racially motivated violence has become far too commonplace in this country. As a white male, I am angered, deeply saddened, and feeling immense shame for the actions of other white men who have bought into a completely baseless concept known as Replacement Theory and who are using it to justify, or at least ignore, the horror happening around us. Several politicians have espoused this theory and proliferated its ideology amongst their contingencies. Political pundits are increasingly capitalizing on the sensational ideas that can and will stoke their viewers and bring in advertising dollars for their owners and stakeholders. There is no way to describe this other than pure evil. If you’re a white male living in America, the spotlight is on you. The negative narrative is being driven by a few. 

Ruth Whitfield, Pearl Young, Ketherine Massey, Aaron Salter Jr., and Heyward Patterson in the Buffalo massacre; George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, Amir Locke and countless more at the hands of those who are hired to protect us. Dialogue that stokes fear around the “other” is responsible for driving these horrendous acts. It goes without saying that access to arms turns hatred, fear, and toxic masculinity into murder. Is that the narrative you want to support or do you want to be part of a paradigmatic shift to an anti-racist, inclusive, heartfelt approach to living? 

The responsibility is on you to make a choice to either be tacitly complicit in the insidious – and often outright egregious – racism with your silence and inaction or to be a leader in defying the baseless claims that perpetuate anger and evil. 

Assuming positive intent, I believe that you, along with any other white person, care deeply about what is happening. That you care about your community, about your family, about other human beings regardless of their skin color or other qualities that speak nothing to character or human value. The deeper question to ask yourself is, “Do you care enough to speak up and stand up against these acts of injustice, violence, and outright hatred?”

When it comes to gender equality, equal pay, equity, and equal opportunities, a growing number of men are stepping up as allies to support women and often excluded groups. Yet when it comes to racial disparities and racially motivated aggression, white male fragility often inhibits us from taking a stand. White male ability, on the other hand, takes into account both our privileges and a true sense of accountability to step into allyship and leadership at such a crucial time in our history. 

You might be tempted to defend yourself, feel guilty, or simply say or do nothing. Again, silence indicates complicity. And my guess is you would not want to be complicit in these senseless, violent acts.  One of the cornerstones of allyship and inclusionary leadership is empathy. My invitation for you is to consider for a moment what it would be like for you if in your town people who looked like you were targeted and gunned down in a senseless act of violence as a result of racially motivated hatred. Would you be angry? Scared? Sad? Feeling helpless? What would you want to hear and what would you need from your friends of color?

If you are feeling blamed, shamed, or accused for simply existing, I want to acknowledge that it can feel that way – BUT WE ARE NOT BEING KILLED FOR OUR SKIN COLOR! As white men, WE NEED TO TAKE A STANCE. We need to use our privilege – which confers upon us a degree of safety and a voice often denied to others  – to stop this train of evil.

So what can we do? We can educate ourselves, become familiar with our biases, cultivate empathy, and commit to supporting others. We can also use our voices and our votes to effect change at the political level. We need to become active allies and advocates for communities and people of color. 

Replacement Theory is a concept born of fear and ignorance. Racist rhetoric fuels hatred and predicates violence. These have no place in the land of the free and home of the brave if we want to be a place where those who look or identify differently from us have the same rights to life and opportunity. 

We are currently witnessing throughout our country a divide between the left and the right, the republicans and the democrats, and people of color and white folk. Emotions are running high, violence is rampant, and the opportunity to come together seems elusive but is not impossible. I maintain that our similarities outweigh our differences; that we are all human and that we all have similar wants and desires. What we all have for certain is a beating heart and it is through that heart that we must learn to act in order to make a future that is more beneficial for all of us. I encourage you to start there – your heart. Learn to listen to it, act from it, and use it to cultivate more empathetic, inclusive behavior. 

#diversity #leadership #inclusion #equality #equity #antiracism #ALLY #allyship #HealthyMasculinity #BetterManMovement  #BetterManConference #dei #buffalostrong #saytheirnames #georgefloyd#stopthehate #replacementtheory





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