I’m feeling heavy y’all, like I don’t know what to do. I know this blog is primarily about books and writing, but I would be remised if I didn’t share what has been on my heart lately.
I am grateful at the attempt to shed light on what the media refuses to cover: how the police state and vigilantism is destroying black bodies. This country acts as if we live in a post-racial society because we had the Civil Rights Act and a Black president that one time. Our history is whitewashed tinged rose-colored. Just because we don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean we still don’t feel repercussions today.
Historical trauma is real, especially in my experience as a Black person. From slavery to Jim Crow terrorism (not just in the South), to the continued violence exerted on the black body today, this is our trauma experienced as a people, whether or not you directly experienced and incident or know someone who did. Institutionally, this trauma is inflicted on all of us.
But this constant sharing of footage of the destruction of the black body gets to be too much. For a while I distanced myself from viewing the videos, but now it has become inescapable. Seeing names and reading stories has become traumatizing.
Rachel Cargle (you should definitely look her up) said on her social media, that all of this is a tipping point, referring to the term coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book of the same title. After Trayvon Martin, we had the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s been years and recent events have shown us that Black lives still don’t matter. It feels a little different now, the atmosphere is especially charged.
I definitely want to talk about the protests that have been happening. People, white and black demonize these protests, calling them riots, asserting that this is not they way to achieve justice. Please ask yourself: why do you feel more inclined to defend and protect the property of corporations and entities who can replace windows or buy a new squad car more than you are incline to replace a Black life that was lost?
I have no right to say the methods of action I choose to take (signing petitions, donating money, continuing to call out oppressive institutions on every platform in which I have a voice) is any better than those who decide to risk their safety to be on the frontlines marching in the streets. Every way of action is valid (except directly killing other people or driving hateful messaging, and there is a difference between hate and calling something/someone out) when Black lives are on the line.
I vow to continue talking about racism and intersecting oppression (because there are Black folks who are women, trans, nonbinary, disabled, queer, and other forms of historically oppressed identities). Even though it may be exhausting, I will continue to engage in these conversations.
Some tangible things my white friends can do in these times:
- Check on your black friends. Many of them are hurting, and you should validate however they are feeling right now. But make sure you don’t call into question their blackness if they don’t feel like the way you think they should feel. And make sure your motives are sincere and not performative BS (see graphic above)
- Do your own homework. Instead of always asking your Black friends what you should do, go to the many people who have volunteered information that is readily accessible. See my recommendations for some books you can start with.
- Engage your white friends and family members in conversations about race. Take some of the labor off your black friends.
- Put your money (and time) where your mouth is. Donate to organizations working for racial justice, call your representatives, vote for people who want to enact progressive policies (I’m soooooo disappointed our choice for president has to be Joe Biden, but that’s a story for another day). We need more than just reposting a hashtag.
Thank you for being in community with me. We have to be in this together.