Over the past few days I have been listening. Listening, watching, reading and learning. I have asked questions and been attentive to responses. My heart is weary. I have not liked all that I have seen and heard but I am sitting with all the feelings. It is in sitting with all those feelings that I have chosen to share some of what I learned.
First….are you uncomfortable right now? Are you angry/afraid/frustrated? GOOD! I am a white person and I am aware that I have work to do to shift the ways I think about and approach race. I need to unlearn the deep-rooted habits and behaviors that perpetuate injustice, as do many others. We all need to unlearn the patterns that continue to contribute to systematic racism. One thing I have heard white people say they feel helpless when things like this continue to happen; when Black people are murdered and the perpetrators are all too often not held accountable. But we all are far from helpless. I know I am inherently privileged because of the color of my skin, and it’s my job to do the work to become a better ally to Black people. We all need to be a better ally. That does not mean reposting/retweeting memes and thinking that is enough. We all need to do more.
So what to do?
LISTEN. Listen and learn. Ask questions and really listen to what is said. Start and continue difficult and uncomfortable conversations with those around you. If you see something you do not understand, do not judge. Ask. Listen. Learn.
LEARN. Educate yourself. Read books on your own. It is not the sole responsibility of black people to educate you on culture, race and prejudice. Here is a list of so many resources.
There are many more but this list is a great place to start. Here is a short list of some books as well:
- Who Gets to Be Afraid in America? by Ibram X. Kendi
- Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Trigger Warning with Killer Mike
FOLLOW. I know that many are on instagram. Some really good accounts to follow are:
The Conscious Kid
Austin Channing Brown
SPEAK. Use your voice. Speak up when you hear someone say something that is inherently racist. That does not mean that you need to be unkind but, instead, explain why what they have said is offensive. Some people (and by some people…I mean me. I am often “some people”) honestly do not know when something they have said might be considered offensive.
DONATE. There are so many places to put your dollars that will make a difference. You can donate to bail funds for protestors, food resources in communities, rebuilding funds for businesses that were looted. The choices are endless. the NAACP is the largest place to donate. Locally, you can donate to My Block, My Hood, My City, and A Long Walk Home are near and dear to my heart for many reasons. There is an additional extensive list here.
VOLUNTEER. If you feel called to protest, do it…peacefully using your voice to amplify the black voices around you. However, you do not have to protest to show support for change. You can volunteer to clean up the vandalism and aftermath of looting. You can volunteer with various organizations that are working to make change in the black community. You can volunteer with so many organizations using your time, talents and treasures to make change.
VOTE. Get out and vote. Seriously make sure you are registered to vote and then get your butt to the polls on election day. If you can stand in line to get groceries and wander around the Bullseye Boutique, then you sure as heck can get out to vote. Do your homework and learn about the candidates and then vote!
SIT. Are you uncomfortable? GOOD! Sit with the discomfort you’re feeling. Reflect on your own privilege and how you can do better for black people in your own life and in the world at large. The ability to move past the feelings we have in response to George Floyd’s death is an absolute privilege. Not everyone has that same privilege, harboring continual fear over the same thing happening to themselves or someone they love. Sit. Just sit and be uncomfortable, knowing that you have advantages that others do not. Sit. Sit and make a decision to do something.
Systematic racism and injustice will only be changed by all of us working together towards a common goal of equality. Each of us has a responsibility to do what we can in our own lives to create that change. I choose to create and hold a safe space for all. I choose to create space for love.