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White Allies, Challenging Racism

By Rebecca Lurie

Sarah Jaffe’s “Challenging Racism at Work” brought to mind for me all the ways white people can take the challenge. This short news item shares what happened when a white cop decided to stand up and #EndWhiteSilence. I applaud the stance and recognize that we all can do this every day. Standing up against racism is not only for those in the most charged environments of “law enforcement.” Certainly, as the Chief of Police in Pittsburgh — and with social media behind him — Cameron McLay had a big role to share with the world. But to widen the lens: when the Murphy Institute, along with CUNY and local unions, decided to develop and design the Scholarship for Diversity in Labor, this too expanded the space in which we begin to challenge racism at work.

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Challenging Racism at Work

This post was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of New Labor Forum

By Sarah Jaffe

Cameron McLay became chief of police in Pittsburgh in September 2014, tasked by new mayor Bill Peduto with cleaning up the department, after its former chief wound up in federal prison for corruption. This put him in charge at a time when the Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country, calling for an end to police brutality, racial profiling, and the deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police officers. When the chief met some of those activists, with the group What’s Up?! Pittsburgh, at community festivities, he posed, in uniform, for an Instagram photo with one of their signs. It read: “I resolve to challenge racism @ work. #EndWhiteSilence.” The photo looked to many like a rare example of a police officer supporting the message of the protesters — the mayor told reporters that he immediately reposted the picture to his own Facebook page.

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