ACLU’s “Road Map For Living While Black on Campus” Lacks Trauma-Informed Approaches

I recently read a post from the ACLU the other day on Medium offering advice to non-White college students employees who have been victims…

ACLU’s “Road Map For Living While Black on Campus” Lacks Trauma-Informed Approaches
Photo by Cassandra Hamer on Unsplash

I recently read a post from the ACLU the other day on Medium offering advice to non-White college students employees who have been victims of racial profiling (or perhaps fear being a victim) on college campuses that was not trauma-informed or considerate of the climate in which we live in.

The so-called “roadmap,” titled “ Living White Black on Campus,” was in my opinion a half-assed attempt to pacify Black people being harassed on college campuses in the laziest, most insulting way possible. It’s a band-aid for a bigger problem (that huge problems of scary and racist White folks who don’t know how to mind their business and those groups misusing their police privileges), and places the burden on Black people to fix an issue that they didn’t create while allowing White offenders and complacent allies to get off Scott free, as usual.

The roadmap should have told White people, especially White women if they are so concerned about their territories being violated by Black people whom they believe don’t belong, they should apply to their campus and city police departments and stop fucking with folks because they have a picture in their minds of how their White worlds should look. But I digress.

The piece basically tells Black people to go find White people who are allies to help them get what they need in order to protect themselves while living on campus. This to-do list had to be created by someone non-Black, because the suggestions are nothing short of saying Blacks can’t lead, they can’t take care of themselves, and they must get White people to speak/advocate for them to get shit done.

Check out the steps to help Black people survive while living on college campuses in the United States:

Step 1: Identify and Connect with Allies
Step 2: Obtain / Demand Current Policies
Step 3: Understand and Identify Advocacy Targets
Step 4: Work with Allies to Finalize List of Demands
Step 5: Present Demands to Advocacy Targets
Step 6: Keep the Pressure On

Source: Giphy

Who came up with this bullshit? I had to go find out about the leadership of the ACLU to help me understand why such inconsiderate, traumatic advice would be given. Once there, it all made sense. It was another situation of the people fighting for us don’t look like us. We don’t have enough seats at the table.

The ACLU’s national leadership is very White and Jewish, with the customary token Black person as the Communication Director. It’s reflective of a national trend of tokenism. The ACLU is just diverse enough to say it has some color, but plenty White enough to say it’s just like any other social justice organization or movement fighting for people of color without having people of color leading anything. These types of organizations are mostly led by non-Blacks, and they tend to talk at Black people. They don’t know how to offer us tangible help, because they really aren’t vested in addressing the entire issues which is complex.

The very people they ask Black college students to go to are the people who resemble the people causing issues for them on campus in the first place. To take it a step further, just because someone is an ally doesn’t mean they aren’t also a racist.

Why is it that Black people must be the ones doing the heavy lifting in addressing racism? Why do we need to have White people to lead us someplace? The advice given keeps Blacks in the same position we’re always in, and that’s looking for a White savior to save us from bad White people. White allies should be digging in their people’s asses about their foolish behavior. Black people have nothing to do with White insecurities, real or imagined. White people planted those seeds in themselves, and White people need to till those seeds up.

Why It’s Bad Advice and Inconsiderate

Would you ask a traumatized female rape victim raped by a man to go out and advocate for herself and to teach other men how not to rape women? Would you ask her to go to her rapists to help her get laws changed to help other victims? Likely not. Sounds stupid, right?

Who would make such a request of Black students and employees on college campuses, without looking at the history of America, and without taking inventory of how “Trump’s America” may be making it difficult for these Black students to trust White people? Why do Black students have to go get allies to bring awareness to something they should already know? Why should White people not get a road map for their racist behaviors instead of focusing on the victim? It’s victim blaming plain and simple.

Only an uninformed, disengaged person would make such a request.

More Questions Than Rational Answers

Why would the ACLU suggest to young Black students trying to survive on campus all alone without parental supports oftentimes they need to find plea with White allies on campus to help them, instead empowering Black students and Black student groups on campus to address racism boldly with or without allies? After all, allies are notorious for being fair weather and being AWOL other times.

Why is this the first suggestion the ACLU is to come up with a solution for victims and not the perpetrators of racism and bias?

I think we already know the reason why, but this way of thinking must change. Black people are competent and fully capable of advocating for themselves with or without allies. In fact, there is nothing like Becky calling the police on you for no good damned reason to motivate a Black person to stand up for themselves.

It’s simply bad advice. It’s inconsiderate, and it falls into the realm of unintentional racism. I’m sure who ever created the Roadmap had good intentions, but good doesn’t get it in today’s hostile climate. The ACLU has done some great works, but in my humble opinion this ain’t one of them.

Social justice organizations need to understand Black folks need to be empowered. And yes, while Black people and Black issues do need allyship, it should only be sought AFTER getting support from our Black and Brown peers who are primary targets of racial discrimination and bias.

These types of instructions are the reasons so many supremacists believe Blacks are inferior. It makes it appear we can do shit without White people. We Blacks are nothing more than helpless cripples, and nothing gets solved or makes things better for us unless there is a White intervention and advocacy. That’s a terribly flawed way of thinking, and a horrible way of supporting a victim of racial profiling or bigotry.

The ACLU should create a Roadmap for White people on how to mind their business. Create a Roadmap to de-program bigots and people who believe Black people don’t belong in White spaces. Create the Roadmap on when White people should and should not call the cops on Black people.

It’s time for organization’s to be more culturally-inclusive and culturally sensitive, especially when you’re a social justice organization proclaiming to fight for the civil rights of minorities. If social justice organizations are making suggestions for racial harmony on behalf of minority groups and disseminating them nationally, they should at the very least make sure they give those minorities seats at the table and inquire about the optics of their intentions, keeping in mind each minority group has their own crosses to bear, but none as heavy and for as long as Blacks in America.

Doing so would help organizations like the ACLU create more helpful material, and perhaps drastically improve the outcomes. After all, that is the purpose, right?

In the coming days, more organizations will be exposed for their shallow, inconsiderate efforts to aid Blacks when race and social justice issues. Stay tuned.

Marley K., 2018