Dear White People: Wake Up!

George Floyd
(Image via Getty/Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune)

By: Zach Draves

“A hundred years ago the American white men used to put on a white sheet and use a bloodhound against Negroes. Today they have taken off the white sheet and put on police uniforms and traded in the bloodhounds for police dogs, and they’re still doing the same thing.”-Malcolm X.

“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Either you side with what’s right or you condone what’s wrong, you can’t love me and not love my people.” – Stephen Jackson

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, a nation of cowards”-Eric Holder

The time has been long overdue for white people to get their act together and to confront the deeply entrenched system of white supremacy.

I say this as a white man in America who recognizes the privilege that I carry and a system that is designed to benefit me at the expense of black men and women and other communities of color.

I am tired of white people sitting on their asses.

I am tired of white people posting their perceived outrage on social media, but not take the time to go out to a rally or protest or join/support a racial justice organization.

I am tired of white people engaging in the activism of convenience which reinforces privilege.

I am tired of white people saying that we have to “get all the facts”, “don’t jump to conclusions”, or “let’s take it one case at a time.”

I am tired of white people saying “What about Chicago?” or “Where are all the fathers?” or “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

Enough with the respectability politics.

All this does in keep us in a never-ending state of complacency and complete normalization of white supremacist attitudes, practices, and sympathies.

The state-sanctioned murder of George Floyd in Minnesota is not an isolated incident.

Nor is Ahmad Arbery.

Or Breona Taylor

Or Nina Pop

Or Trayvon Martin

Or Eric Garner

Or Sandra Bland

Or Keith Lamont Scott

Or Michael Brown

Or Rekia Boyd

Or Tamir Rice

Or Alton Sterling

Or Freddie Grey

Or Philando Castile

Or Attiana Jefferson

Or Amadou Diallo

Or Eula Love

The list goes on and on.

Image may contain: one or more people, child and closeup

(Courtesy: Facebook)

This is why Colin Kaepernick took a knee.

The haunting words of “I Can’t Breathe” coming from George Floyd and Eric Garner are why athletes wore those iconic t-shirts.

Magic Johnson praises athletes who wore 'I can't breathe' shirts ...

(Courtesy: Review Journal)

Protesters vs. Props for Freedom: College Athletes Can't Breathe ...

(Courtesy: CNN)

The one and only LeBron James once again spoke truth to power and asked “Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still a blur to you??”

Former NBA star Stephan Jackson, a friend of George, made a powerful declaration of being on the side of justice.

Stephen Jackson mourns loss of close friend George Floyd, who died ...

NFL stars Odell Beckham Jr and DeMarcus Lawrence spoke up.

NBA stars Jaylen Brown and Donovan Mitchell spoke up.

WNBA legend Lisa Leslie spoke up.

Odell Beckham Jr


Worlds honestly sickening. It really is….. no explanation

10.3K people are talking about this

DeMarcus Lawrence



8,398 people are talking about this

Jaylen Brown


If I was in attendance I would have been arrested for sure 

Taylor Twellman


When will it stop?! Honestly this is murder in plain daylight.

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5,244 people are talking about this
1,989 people are talking about this

Lisa Leslie


If anybody that follows me is not outraged about these senseless attacks on BLACK MEN, please stop following me! If your spirit is not disturbed, please stop following me! This inflicted Pain but it will never inflict FEAR… sorry, were not made like that!

View image on Twitter
1,402 people are talking about this

Even Houston Texas star J.J Watt spoke, a walking embodiment of white privilege.

The problem is that there weren’t enough white athletes speaking up.

We can no longer sit on the sidelines and we need to get in the game of justice.

White supremacy has a vicious impact on all of us and it is incumbent upon those with privilege and power to step up and to engage in thorough and rigorous individual and structural analysis.

As I have said before, don’t just be Pee Wee Reese putting your arms around Jackie Robinson, but be Chris Long, who not only puts his arm around Malcolm Jenkins but gives a significant portion of your salary to educational equality.

Become Peter Norman standing on the podium in solidarity with Tommie Smith and John Carlos.

Become Jack Twyman and advocate for the dignity and humanity of Maurice Stokes.

Become Kyle Korver and write about the need to combat white supremacy holistically.

There are unfortunately too few examples of white athletes actively engaging in racial justice and that has got to change.

To quote LeBron “look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, what are we doing to create change?”

Ask yourself that question and then do everything you can to become consistently active in racial justice.

To quote Dr. King, “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice”.

But it doesn’t bend on its own.




Zachary Draves
About Zachary Draves 115 Articles
Violence Prevention Educator, Activist, MSW Aurora University, Adjunct Professor of Social Justice and Civic Engagement at Dominican University, Aspiring Filmmaker, Alliance for Social Workers in Sports, You Can Play Project Ambassador, Co-Founder of West Chicago Suburbs Chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Co-Founder of Racial and Gender Justice in Sports Project, Organizing White Men For Collective Liberation (OWMCL), Organizer Athletes and Advocates for Social Justice

1 Comment on Dear White People: Wake Up!

  1. I have seen the video of the blatant abuse/murder of George Floyd, more than once. Each time, I was sickened,shocked, saddened & ashamed of the police. This is the most horrific incident of police brutality I personally have ever witnessed.
    Peaceful protest is encouraged. Anger may be released in written articles, etc…and fears may be lessened by support, help and prayers of others…..I stand with all who see the need to change this NOW.

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