“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
– Arthur Ashe –

next steps for white-identifying audiences

The creators of Don’t Look Away hope it has challenged and moved you to join in the effort to dismantle systemic racism. The piece is not the work itself, but we hope that this music has inspired our audience to seek out opportunities to start difficult conversations and to join in the fight for justice. It can be difficult to know where to start, so here are some thoughts and resources our artistic team has gathered to help you on your journey.

First and foremost, it is important to listen to Black and Brown people. Not only do they experience racism in their daily lives, but as a community, they have been organizing, advocating, and working to dismantle systemic oppression for lifetimes. Discovering complicity in a racist system and wanting to help is profound, but does not make a person an expert. White people are late to the struggle, and should focus on educating themselves, then finding people in their community doing anti-racist work and asking them what they need.

Many white people were brought up to believe that they should be “colorblind” and not “see race,” that racism was solved by the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and that “racism” only meant people who held virulently bigoted views. This erases the experience of people of color in America, who face not only overtly racist acts, but implicit bias and the hundreds of years of legal discrimination that still affect the system today. The phrase “the system is racist,” doesn’t mean that every American is actively racist, but that between residual effects of legal discrimination and implicit bias, the framework of American society still privileges white people. This powerful image comes from Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, in Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?


“Because racism is ingrained in the fabric of American institutions, it is easily self-perpetuating. All that is required to maintain it is business as usual.
I sometimes visualize the ongoing cycle of racism as a moving walkway at the airport. Active racist behavior is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt. The person engaged in active racist behavior has identified with the ideology of white supremacy and is moving with it. Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway. No overt effort is being made, but the conveyor belt moves the bystanders along to the same destination as those who are actively walking. Some of the bystanders may feel the motion of the conveyor belt, see the active racists ahead of them, and choose to turn around, unwilling to go in the same destination as the White supremacists. But unless they are walking actively in the opposite direction at a speed faster than the conveyor belt—unless they are actively antiracist—they will find themselves carried along with the others.”

educate yourself

The following resources are not meant to be comprehensive, but rather to provide a jumping off point for your own exploration. If you encounter a broken link, feel free to contact us on the About the Artists page.

before you begin

Franchesca Ramsey is an actress, comedian and video blogger who has created fun and informative short videos on many subjects, including a series called Decoded for MTV. This video is designed for white people newly involved in anti-racist spaces: 5 Tips for Being An Ally.

If you prefer to read an article, here’s So You Call Yourself an Ally: 10 Things All ‘Allies’ Need to Know by Jamie Utt.

different kinds of racism

1. Internalized Racism: A set of privately held beliefs, prejudices and ideas about the superiority of whites and the inferiority of people of color. Among people of color, it manifests as internalized oppression. Among whites, it manifests as internalized racial superiority.

2. Interpersonal Racism: The expression of racism between individuals. It occurs when individuals interact and their private beliefs affect their interactions.

3. Institutional Racism: Discriminatory treatment, unfair policies and practices, and inequitable opportunities and impacts within organizations and institutions, all based on race, that routinely produce racially inequitable outcomes for people of color and advantages for white people. Individuals within institutions take on the power of the institution when they reinforce racial inequities.

4. Structural Racism: A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations and other norms work in various, often reinforcing, ways to perpetuate racial group inequality. It is racial bias among institutions and across society. It involves the cumulative and compounding effects of societal factors including the history, culture, ideology and interactions of institutions and policies that systematically privilege white people and disadvantage people of color.

Source: The Four Levels of Racism, United Way

understanding systemic racism & implicit bias

Racism is not always conscious or obvious, it is also systemic, structural and institutional. Systemic racism is discrimination that is so deeply embedded in the social, political and legal framework of a society it becomes nearly invisible. It creates inequality in employment, housing, healthcare, politics, education, the accumulation of wealth, and the legal system. Professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has called this “racism without racists,” because it doesn’t require explicit bigotry to function, it will continue to roll on unless it is stopped by conscious effort.

We all think of ourselves as individuals, and want to be judged on our efforts, talents, and humanity, but studies have shown that America isn’t purely a meritocracy, particularly when it comes to race. It makes sense when you think about it. Hundreds of years of legal slavery followed by nearly a hundred years of Jim Crow laws and discrimination that were enforced by terror even after the laws were repealed have created a system where white people are given advantages without having to do anything at all.

• If you love visual data, here are 25 charts that describe different aspects of systemic racism from Business Insider
• Here is an infographic of some different kinds of racism someone might encounter in a day
• This 2014 article explains “racism without racists,” written during the unrest following the shooting death of an unarmed Black teen, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Implicit Bias

We use the term “implicit bias” to describe our unconscious assumptions about people and situations. Everyone has hidden biases, and they can lead to unintended discrimination. Read more about implicit bias in this PBS interview with social psychologist Anthony Greenwald and take an Implicit Bias Test courtesy of Harvard’s Project Implicit, which can reveal attitudes not only about race, but gender, age, religion and even body type.

take a course

These are just some of the offerings available to help you dig deeper into understanding racism in America. Also look into colleges and universities in your area, which may have continuing education courses available.

21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge from America & Moore

• This course is online and self-directed, and features a tracking chart to help keep you on course. It also features a Facebook community page. “For 21 days, do one action to further your understanding of power, privilege, supremacy, oppression, and equity.”

Rachel Cargle’s Do The Work

• This is a 30-day online course for white people “to unlearn, to build knowledge, to break cycles of racism that have been embedded in this country since its birth.”

The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism, and Engage in Collective Healing by Anneliese A. Singh

• Offers practical tools to help you navigate daily and past experiences of racism, challenge internalized negative messages and privileges, and handle feelings of stress and shame.

Systemic Racism 101 by Living Cities and Aminah Pilgrim

• This book has “infographic spreads alongside explanatory text to help you visualize and truly understand societal, economic, and structural racism—along with what we can do to change it.”

The Anti-Racism Project

• Offers facilitated zoom courses on understanding white privilege, white supremacy and racism. Contact them to sign up for their eight-week course.

The Privilege Institute

• Provides challenging, collaborative and comprehensive strategies to empower and equip people to work for equity and justice through self, organizational and social transformation.

Ithaca College

As part of our work to premiere Don’t Look Away at Ithaca College, we have compiled a list of opportunities for current students, alumni, and community members to complete coursework that cover topics related to race, racism, anti-racism, and other related topics. Coursework is offered throughout the year, in the traditional fall/spring semesters as well as in condensed formats during winter/summer sessions. Current Ithaca College students are encouraged to check HomerConnect for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Individuals who are not current Ithaca College students who would like to complete coursework should visit the Office of Extended Studies for information on how to view courses enroll. Explore anti-racist coursework offered by Ithaca College here.

seek out resources

There are many resources available both online and in person. Here are just a few places to start:

Resources for Anti-Racism

• Website with sources of information for people in every stage of learning. It also offers lists of people and organizations to follow and support.

Understanding Systemic Anti-Black Racism in the United States: A Reference List

• Shared Google document with articles, videos, graphics, etc.

The Anti-Racism Project

• List of contemporary books.

what does it mean to be white?

Many white people don’t think of themselves as having a race—much like a fish doesn’t perceive water, white people in the majority don’t have to consider how society and culture privilege them.

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo are two books that explore what it means to be white in America.

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh is an essay about white privilege written in 1989.

White Anti-Racist Activists compiled by Elizabeth Denevi and Lori Cohen is a list of white anti-racist activists from the past.

15 Questions White People Will Never Have to Ask Themselves and 13 Things White People Take For Granted chronicle some of the ways that being part of the dominant culture makes life easier in America.

• Janet Helms, PhD, created a model of “white racial identity development” that is categorizes stages of development during learning and activism.

• In Talking about Race, Learning about Racism: The Application of Racial Identity Development Theory in the Classroom, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum writes about her experiences teaching using this model in university settings.

the problem with “color blindness”

For a time, it was considered progressive by many white people to ignore the existence of race, since it should not be an attribute that impacts how people are seen. However, since we do not live in a world where that ideal is reflected by our society, “not seeing race” is problematic.

• In Why saying “I don’t see race at all” just makes racism worse, Heather McGhee shares why “not seeing color” is problematic. Also watch her TED talk at the bottom of that webpage about how racism hurts all of us.

What I Hear When Someone Says “I Don’t See Color”

Stop Saying, “I Don’t See Color.” Here Are Some Better Ways To Support Us

is anti-racist work anti-republican or anti-conservative?

“The system” isn’t the same thing as “the government,” but rather the social and economic fabric of America. Every person has implicit biases that can be understood and fought against. Data shows that institutions and structures aren’t working the same for everyone. Governmental intervention isn’t the only path to solving this. People who don’t want to engage with policy can still see that systems and institutions treat Black and Brown people differently. They can do anti-racist work. It can only strengthen the fight for equality to have people working from many angles.

As Living Cities puts it, “The inequitable systems that we live under were designed by people, so it must be through the day-to-day choices and behaviors of people within the systems to change them.”

Individuals can work in their communities with organizations that help companies diversify, teach about bias in education, banking, employment, healthcare, etc. There is work that we all have to do that has nothing to do with politics. If individuals recognize that the system is unequal and can begin to unravel their biases and work against them, a lot of institutional and structural racism can be dismantled without any laws being passed at all.

“Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression.”
– Malcolm X –

“Find somebody who’s doing something and help them.”
– Ella Baker –

join the struggle

Learning and listening and personal growth are only the beginning. Seek out organizations in your communities that have been doing anti-racist work and join them. Look for opportunities to use your privilege to promote equality.

Follow people and organizations who are already doing the work. 

Resources for Anti-Racism has a large list of both individual activists and educators and organizations & nonprofits to follow.

SURJ: Showing up for racial justice

SURJ is a national organization that brings hundreds of thousands of white people into fights for racial and economic justice.

Find your local chapter here.

Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice: Moving from Actor → Ally → Accomplice

This is a chart filled with specific actions white people can take broken into categories from education to protest to financial support to art. 

local opportunities in tompkins county, ny

Tompkins County has made a list of local organizations our audience from the premiere can join.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

– Dr. Maya Angelou –