There are only so many things a white guy can write about racism, and most of them are assurances to other white people that, yes, it exists.
But fighting any kind of real problem causes change, and change is painful and personal. Acknowledging systemic racism is the first step to giving up its benefits. Giving up its benefits means approaching something like actual equality. Most people, I think, make racist decisions and judgements every day, and often without realizing it. In media, pay attention for whom the word thug is used. On college campuses and in the public sector, pay attention to how much more difficult bureaucratic tasks are made for non-whites. It will start as a cynical task — no one I know would do this! — and will become equally cynical when you’re finished for the opposite reason.
I think we’re going to go back to being light-hearted for a few comics. These are hard to write, and it’s difficult to think about one of your characters and say, “well, she’s probably racist — at least a little.” These characters come from me, and there’s only so much inner-delving I’m going to do for strangers on the internet. =) (For what it’s worth, I think I spent more time on this comic than Zach did, for once.)
I had to physically stop myself from making one of the other characters explain a political worldview to Sera. There are very few places one can go where the general denizen is savvy and diplomatic enough to solve the sort of problem I’m writing about. Intersectional dialogue is goddamn hard. Different cultures have different assumptions about the world, and use words in vastly different connotative ways. For example, when whites say “racism,” they tend to think about the KKK and other overtly racist groups. They tend to think of terrorist actions–lynchings, death threats, assassinations, and all the other goodness on those lines that peppers U.S. history. Blacks (I generalize reluctantly) tend to mean systemic racism that branches out of basic assumptions–difficulty finding work, difficulty fitting into a university, being stereotyped (for example, being seen instantly as a criminal by law enforcement) — in addition to the full form of the thing. And it’s increasingly becoming taboo to even talk about these things in mixed company.
I have to give a shout out to my old job, though. If any institution on earth could solve a problem like the ones my characters are having, it’s the PSU Writing Center. That may sound odd, but the place really is a haven within a haven.
I’m throwing a shout-out to our Patreon page. We make this comic for free and the advertisements don’t turn any sort of profit, so if you like what we make, please consider a voluntary subscription. Our Patrons get access to the sketches, short stories, splash art, and other stuff we make, and we even produce custom content just for them.