Whether this post feels new here or long overdue, perhaps it’s both. In light of Ahmaud Arberry, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, this is something that needs to be said. I needed a few days to gather my thoughts and turn them into somewhat eloquent words. I’ll be honest — I’ve not posted about racism in our country and world before because I never know exactly what to say. I feel like I will get it wrong, I’ll come across as tone deaf or I’ll miss an important piece and it will make the whole post irrelevant. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t know everything and I don’t want to get something so big wrong. So I’ve stayed silent. It’s ‘best this way’ I tell myself, pushing away that voice that says to speak up. And that is white privilege. A privilege I evoke when I feel uncomfortable because whether I speak up or not, my immediate world doesn’t really change. But it’s not just about my world, it’s about your world, too. And Gemma’s world and your child’s world. It’s about our black, indigenous and people of color’s (BIPOC) world. And right now, it’s burning.
As a white woman, I do not fully understand the struggles of a black woman or man. So I won’t pretend I have even an inch of understanding, but I do have empathy when listening to stories of struggle and oppression. And if you are a white person who is willing to learn — or unlearn — I want this post to help you. This post is not here to shame you, but to inspire change. If you feel like you’ve not done enough, start here. If you feel like you aren’t sure what to do but you want to do something, start here. This post is here to say that we, as white women (and men), can do better. Everyone deserves the same safety and freedom in their lives. It’s time to listen to black voices because black lives matter. And if that statement bothers you and you want to leave me a hateful comment, that’s fine, too. Ten years of the internet has given me a tough skin. But after you leave that comment that I’ll swiftly delete and forget about, I want you to think about why that statement bothers you. The list below can help you figure that out.
I don’t like to rock the boat. I am not naturally confrontational and I don’t like to overstep, especially on fires I don’t know if I can contain. But when my black friends are saying they don’t want to let their children ride their bikes alone in their own front yard, or send their husband out past 9 pm alone, I can’t stay silent. I am only one person and my echo into the internet isn’t huge, but you can become two and whoever you teach these things to can become three. That is how change happens.
We can be better. It starts with us. It starts at home and it starts today. It starts by choosing every single day to do better by our neighbors and if that takes work, then let’s do the work. Our black brothers and sisters deserve to live in a world that respects their lives.
I would encourage you to be okay with being uncomfortable. Be okay with that little knot that might form in your throat as your read thoughts on white privilege and white fragility and as you read the challenges and struggles of our black friends. Change doesn’t come from comfort. Listen. Learn. Be anti-racist. Be an ally.
A quote from Ibram X. Kendi:
“The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘anti-racist.’ What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an anti-racist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’”
Bryan and I have compiled a list of books, podcasts, resources and places to donate. Here is what we, as white people, can do right now.
Educate Yourself + Others
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin Diangelo
How to Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum
Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey
(Side note: if you have a Kindle, you can get these now because some of the hard copies are out of stock. I use the Kindle app on my iPhone and iPad and I really like this option because you can highlight, save, etc.)
Code Switch from NPR – this podcast dives into difficult conversations about how race intersects with our everyday life via sports, pop culture and politics with co-hosts Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby. It’s a great place to start if you are already a fan of NPR style podcasts.
The Nod from Gimlet Media – this podcast ended in January of this year, but there is a whole catalog of black voices and stories to listen to. This is more story driven than news / current event driven.
What a Day from Crooked Media – A Comedian and a reporter break down the news from the day into not-so- easy-to-digest news in under 20 minutes. I usually laugh within the first 60 seconds.
Unlocking Us with Brene Brown – Brene Brown is white, but she is a voice in the anti-racism movement. Her two latest podcasts dive into anti-racism and it’s worth a listen.
Small Doses by Amanda Seales — she is an actress and comedian and drops her ‘little gems’ of truth on her podcast. It’s funny, it’s smart and it’s very much worth a listen.
1619 by New York Times – a podcast about ‘the long shadow of American slavery’. I just discovered this one as I was researching this post, so this one is next on my to listen.
This American Life: This is one of my favorite podcasts. I feel like I end up walking away thinking about things from the stories I’ve heard from here for days. I’ve linked a few podcasts below that are specifically race related.
Episode 648: Unteachable Moment: stories about people who are supposed to learn some stuff that is really hard to learn, and then what happens instead of learning.
Episode 550: Three Miles: There’s a program that brings together kids from two schools. One school is public and in the country’s poorest congressional district. The other is private and costs $43,000/year. They are three miles apart. The hope is that kids connect, but some of the public school kids just can’t get over the divide. We hear what happens when you get to see the other side and it looks a lot better.
This is a google doc by Indigo (@botanicaldyke) that contains ‘community bail funds, memorial funds, political education resources, organizations to put on your radar as well as general advice/tips for people attending protests or using social media as an organizing tool.’ It is an incredible list so this is a great place to bookmark and share.
Be sure to register to vote in any and all elections, starting with your local government. Research the candidates views, policies and backgrounds. Make sure you know the policies that each candidate supports and to vote for the policies, not just the politician. Policies are what have lasting effects on our world. Use your vote every single time.
- Try to understand terms like “white privilege” and “white fragility” and how that can impact your actions.
- Speak up on your social media, no need to be an “influencer” to have a voice.
- Call out your friends or family when something racist is said or done. Stand up for black lives even if none are around.
- Diversify your feeds — follow black creators. See and respect different views.
- Support black owned businesses, local and online.
- Have a willingness to learn, to listen and to grow.
- Check in on your black friends and let them know you are an ear to listen if they need a place to vent. Love doesn’t always have to use words.
- Don’t turn it off, don’t walk away from the news because it’s uncomfortable and you feel helpless. Stay active.
Thank you for reading and thank you for showing up.