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Exploring the History of White Anti-Racists

white anti-racism May 23, 2022

Here at the Institute we have been talking about creating accountability networks. We know that being anti-racist means that we are accountable to reckoning with the past and creating liberatory futures. To better understand our present moment, we need to know how white supremacist delusions have created and maintain structures of oppression. Fighting white supremacy is the work of us all.  However, it usually falls on those most impacted by these structures of oppression to do this work. 

Our collective liberation is dependent upon those with power and privilege to do this work within their own communities. Aisha Suleiman, founder of True White Allies, offers models of white anti-racists fighting against the historical institutions of enslavement and human trafficking. 

We want to share Aisha’s work with our community. We hope you will engage with her materials by reading her website and learning more from her below:

There are plenty of examples of White people being anti-racist throughout history, some much further back in history than you might think.

But often, when we think about who has been at the forefront of the fight for racial equality, a Black person or person of color comes to mind. This leads to thinking that the responsibility of tackling racism lies with those most impacted by it. 

Following George Floyd’s murder and the wave of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in 2020, I heard well-meaning White colleagues ask, “What can I do to help as a White person?”. 

I had mixed feelings. I was happy they were asking and that they’d woken up, but I also thought to myself, “Why are you asking Black people? Surely some White people fought against oppression, like slavery and colonialism, in the past?”

So I started researching White people who fought against slavery and found many of them. I decided that we need to hear their stories, especially as racism is still thriving in 2022, and we have such a long way to go. 

That's why I created True White Allies - a film series that shares the forgotten history of White people who stood up against racism in the US and UK – as far back as the 1700s. I knew I wanted to inspire White people to challenge racism whenever they encountered it. 

Still, I also knew that people learn best by following examples. It’s important to highlight that White people have been part of the fight for racial equality for centuries. 

Being an ally is about action – it’s not about what you say. The anti-racists in the films understood this. They can inspire us to stand up against racism, especially within institutions, even if it doesn’t make us popular. 

I hope that sharing these stories will inspire more White people to become anti-racist so that we’re not still fighting racism in another hundred years.

All that I ask is that you take 5 minutes to learn about these fascinating figures and share these videos with two White friends.

Watch the films on https://www.truewhiteallies.com/ 


Aisha Suleiman is an award-winning diversity and inclusion leader, entrepreneur, and keynote speaker. Through her company, The Inclusive Culture, Aisha helps organizations achieve their diversity, inclusion, and business goals through effective employee networks as part of their journey towards a more inclusive workplace. Aisha has worked with renowned global brands like Amazon and IPG Mediabrands, using her experience, passion, and drive for progress to help these companies meet their diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments.

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