Alemu argues that “Solidarity is not acknowledging your white privilege, but relinquishing it”

July 7, 2020

Ford School PhD candidate Matthew Alemu (MPP '09) says that while he appreciates support from white friends when racist incidents occur, something deeper needs to occur. In an opinion piece in the Detroit Free Press on July 7, he notes that “possessing privilege is unavoidable in our society and something that anyone would utilize if they have it.” 

He goes on to “suggest the daily responsibility whites must take on if they genuinely wish to stand in solidarity with African Americans in this country:

“Your sadness, your protest, and your money do not equate to solidarity. Solidarity requires a level of introspection that leads to more than helping black lives. Solidarity means finding ways to relinquish the privilege that makes your whiteness inconsequential and my Blackness fatally consequential.

“If you want to stand in solidarity with African Americans, then let it not be only because you want to save Black lives from our burden of oppression, but rather because the consequences of your daily privilege on Black lives has become a burden you can no longer bear. Lastly, if you’re white and read this and desire a solution that doesn’t start with the aforementioned self-examination, that’s fine, just call it by its name: white privilege.”

You can read the entire piece here.