This has been a very important and heavy week here in the U.S. What is happening right now is critical to our future and becoming a true democracy that serves the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of its people.
I want to call us all to action. What is going on in our country matters for all of us and it is so important that we all stand for justice right now. People are dying for it every day.
To the people of color reading this, I see you, I stand with you and I am sorry. I know sorry does not fix anything. I want you to know how much this matters to me and to so many other white allies I know who want to be the best allies we can be. We are listening, watching, witnessing and participating. If I can help blow the signal bigger on things you are doing, please send them to me.
To you who are reading this who are white and/or who have a totally privileged experience a because of your skin color in the US, nothing is more important than what is happening to Black Lives in this country right now.
Breonna Taylor who was murdered by police while in her bed sleeping in her own home and would have been 27 years old today. Another bright life lost to senseless, racist law enforcement policies that allow the complete violation and disregard for human life to continue.
Black people have always been treated vastly differently in the United States than anyone else. It started with slavery, and that system became the criminal justice system we know today. We all get to unlearn what we have been taught and engage in knowing the real story of race in America. Until we change our current systems, they will continue to be wildly unequal, putting Black people at risk every single day.
It’s not one issue, it’s an interrelated massive network of systems and issues that has created a country that disregards human life and yet claims it stands for freedom and equality.
I believe in that vision.
What we have is not that vision. It is the PEOPLE who will create that vision because our politicians are too corrupt and bought to create real change without the continued pressure of the people pushing them to create change.
I want to share with you this week some resources, videos and actions I am taking and that I hope you will join me in taking. Every single one of us has a role to play right now. Not later, not tomorrow, not “when things calm down.” Now.
This is a moment unlike any moment I remember. I have worked for racial justice in a variety of ways since Rodney King woke me up in 1992 when I was finishing college at UC Santa Barbara, just 95 miles north of Los Angeles. Never had the world seen this kind of police brutality caught on film. It had been happening over and over and communities of color knew this was standard practice but white people had a huge wake up call when we saw that footage. I did. I could not stand by and ignore it.
That, along side my budding feminism led me to read Angela Davis, (Women, Race and Class), Audre Lorde (Sister Outsider), Home Girls anthology, This Bridge Called My Back anthology (required reading) among many others to help me understand the complex issues that were at work.
We didn’t use the term intersectional feminism at the time, coined by Kimberle Crenshaw. Yet, today we see that intersectional feminism is the only way we can talk about feminism and be effective because gender relates to and is compounded by race, class, sexuality, ability, age, body size and many other factors.
Feminism is not one thing or an agreed upon belief system. It must include a powerful critique of the many issues that impact women and people of all genders.
Audre Lorde said in Sister Outsider,
“Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.”*
“The master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house.”
What does that mean? That we cannot beat them at their own game using brutality, violence, dehumanization and the other tools of white supremacy and patriarchy. We must create new tools and visions for how we can dismantle the systems that empower their violence.
This is the moment of revolution that has been coming for a long long time. We have watched far too many Black and brown people be killed at the careless and callous hands of law enforcement.
This is a turning point. We will make demands. We will take our country back. We will better build this democracy. We will love each other. We will stand for what is just and in the end justice will prevail.
No one gets to sit this out. Because none of us are free if we are not all free. As someone who stands for liberation it is critical that I talk to you about this. If you follow my work, I hope you care about this as deeply as I do.
What We Can Do Right Now and Moving Forward
Many people are afraid to speak up and say the wrong thing. Please let that go and speak. Please raise your voice. Here are some things that are important right now that you can do.
- Educate yourself. So many books you can read or listen to if you are not a reader. A great place to start is Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad and White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. There are many more. Pick one. Start. Read books written by people of color and buy from independent POC book sellers. Here’s a list of Black-owned, independent bookstores: https://aalbc.com/bookstores/list.php
- Talk about what is happening to your friends, family and followers if you have them. We must keep raising consciousness about why Black Lives Matter, especially to people who do not get it or want to get it. Write about this on social media, and keep sharing your stand.
- Amplify Black Leaders. We get to contribute to the narrative we need to stay focused on which is that Black Lives Matter. We do this by continuing to amplify Black voices and perspectives. Keep centering the focus and narrative on Black leadership and calls to action.
Please do not focus on looting, good cop/bad cop narratives or other aspects of this situation that take us away from the focus right now, which is that Black people are being killed by a system of law enforcement that makes that easy to do with impunity and we will not be silent or still until we change these systems that are outrightly and brutally racist.
- Donate. I have donated to countless organizations and efforts now, from supporting George Floyd’s family, to LGBTQ advocacy (Black trans man Tony McDade was shot and killed by police two days after George Floyd was murdered), to supporting bail efforts for peaceful protesters being detained, to my local chapter of Black Lives Matter. Choose the organizations and efforts you want to support and give whatever you can. It takes money to advocate and keep the pressure on. We must support and this is one of the easiest ways to do it.
- Finally, keep listening. Keep watching. Keep witnessing. Keep showing up. March. VOTE. Stand and be counted. We cannot end racism and white supremacy without white people standing with people of color. All of us contribute to changing our systems. We get to say NO MORE.
THINGS TO WATCH and SHARE
If you have not watched this incredible impassioned press conference with Black leaders Tamika Mallory, Stephen Jackson and Jamie Foxx, please watch it. Please take it in.
This address by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle on Revolution is powerful. Follow her work and please join me in joining her The Great Unlearn, where she shares a monthly syllabus and holds live classes to discuss what we are reading and learning so that we can unlearn the racism and white supremacy we all have been taught. I am very excited about this opportunity and hope you will join me in participating. Even if you are not a reader per se, please join her patreon at whatever level you can, show up to the live calls to learn, and share it with others.
President Obama has made an address to the nation.
I hope that one day we look back at this moment the way South Africans saw the end of apartheid, the way Germans saw the wall coming down, the way all of humanity felt when WWII ended and Hitler was defeated. In the meantime, may we take really good care of each other out there.
Are you ready to put your work out into the world and want support to develop it and frame it so you can reach your audience? This is the bootcamp for you.