Self-awareness is a son-of-a-bitch but a necessary one. I finished the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo about a week ago and it makes me want to revise my post titled White People - please stop it. But I'm not going to because it's a reminder that every single day I need to learn, to grow, and to do/be better than the day before.
“A vital, necessary, and beautiful book, a bracing call to white folk everywhere to see their whiteness for what it is and to seize the opportunity to make things better now.” —Michael Eric Dyson
In that piece I wrote white people should be quiet unless they are raising black voices, adding to them, and amplifying them. Maybe I was a bit wrong. I was right in intention, but maybe not in what I should have been trying to convey, because I do whole-heartedly believe we (white people) should talk about race and racism with each other and with people of color. We are a society and we get to choose how we define it - all of us.
It doesn't start at the top, it starts with us and our immediate surroundings. And Liberals, my people, stop blaming Trump. He's just a heinous, insidious culmination of what has been happening and rapidly building for years.
What many people don't seem to grasp is racism isn't always using the "N" word. Sometimes it's seeing a black man or woman murdered by a police officer (or white vigilantes) and responding with:
I wonder what the whole story is?
What did he do to get into this position?
Libs will blame Trump for this, right?
Let's wait to make a judgment call until we really know what happened.
Was he resisting arrest?
In the last 24 hours, I read every single one of the above statements on various posts with regard to George Floyd. If you see your comment above, know I see you. It won't be long before we hear about every mistake this man made throughout his entire life - as if it matters.
His name is George Floyd. He worked at a nursing home. He begged for help. He was murdered. The four police officers were fired and it's not enough.
I believe I was wrong in that post because we're not going to get through this just by supporting and amplifying black voices. We have to speak up. We have to shout. We have to fucking scream. It's about white-privilege, inequality, daily microaggressions, injustices, and calling out racism where ever you see it and when ever you hear it - regardless of where you are or to whom you're speaking.
For the police officers I know personally, who work hard every single day to protect and serve, this starts with you too. You need to do better to call out your colleagues way before a situation like Mr. Floyd's murder. You don't work with someone so very closely and not know how they feel about people of color. Do better. Be better. Be responsible.
We watched a man murdered on video. Again. He was crying for his mother. He said he couldn't breathe. He begged for help. His name was George Lloyd.
On Tuesday night, protestors in Minneapolis were met with tear gas and rubber bullets. Last night, protests broke out in Memphis, Minneapolis, and California. According to reporter Liz Sawyer: "One thing is clear... There is a tremendous amount of anger and pain over the death of #GeorgeFloyd. Several folks I talked to said they didn't care whether people agreed with their methods (i.e. looting, destruction of property) "We have to get their attention somehow.""
Yes, it detracts from what the protestors are trying to accomplish, but imagine being met with tear gas and rubber bullets for protesting yet another murder, while white nationalists with guns burst into state capitol buildings, hang effigies, scream in the faces of police officers, and not one thing is done to stop or deter them. If that isn't a sign of second class citizenship, I don't know what it is. We should all be so mad. I've said more than once - burn it all down. And I don't blame them.
Here's what I think and what I choose to believe. There are some people who struggle with race and want to begin understanding and making a difference. Maybe because of your parents or your friends, you're afraid to stand up for what you know in your heart is right. Here are a few suggestions:
Read Guidelines for Being Strong White Allies, Adapted from Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Social Justice by Paul Kivel. (PDF opens.)
Understand it is not a black person's job to educate you. Don't try to force a conversation unless you know the person is in the right head space and willing to do so. Lesson learned for me recently.
If you're a parent, really try to put yourself in the shoes of a mother or father of a black son. Tell me you wouldn't be afraid to see him walk out the door every day.
Read the book White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. This book is helpful to white people in understanding why it's difficult to talk about race. It's okay that it's difficult. It's not okay if you do nothing about it.
Read the book White Rage by Carol Anderson. She does a remarkable job in reframing the conversation about race and systemic racism in our country.
Read more black authors to learn and understand perspectives white people simply do not have. I highly recommend The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. [Read my review.]
Intervene. Speak up. Let the people around you know it's not okay to say racist or discriminatory things. Often I hear "You're so politically correct!" It's not about that. It's about being human and if you're worried what that person thinks of you for speaking up, they will remember next time and even if it's just a tiny seed - it was planted.
The All Lives Matter narrative needs to stop. It's part of the problem and so are you if this is your way of walking through this world right now because we see evidence every single day this isn't true. Unless people change, and it starts with you, we are headed for a disaster of a country and this is just the beginning.
Find your empathy and find your sympathy. It's what the world needs right now more than anything.