This post is dedicated to George Floyd.
As a white woman, I feel unqualified to speak about race and how black people are treated in this country, but I see the injustice of police killing Black people. You may have heard of some of these names of Black Americans who have died at the hands of police.
The list goes on.
These injustices will continue to happen unless white people join in the outrage and ally ourselves with the people in our own communities and advocate for them, as they have advocated for themselves for years. This could be in the form of protests of these deaths. It could be electing people at the federal, state, and local level that advocate for police reform. At minimum, follow activists and people who are people of color (POC) on social media and learn from them (don’t crowd their space with your comments, just listen to what they have to say). Here’s a list of 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice.
It’s not enough to hide behind white privilege of “I can’t deal with this,” or claim “I don’t see color,” or pretend it’s not happening altogether. This fallacy completely ignores the black identity. It erases Black history and culture. It erases the lived experience of Black people. Acknowledging you have privilege because of the white color of your skin does not invalidate your experience, it just means that your skin color hasn’t been a reason for discrimination in your life. White people benefit from systems in place that discriminate against people of color.
Maybe you’ve done the bare minimum, like me, where donating to a cause seems like enough. It’s not good enough anymore. Black Americans have been telling us for decades that the systems we have in this country are unjust. We have hidden behind our privilege and said to them with our silence “not my problem.” It’s past time that we unlearn all our biases, whether actual or subconscious. It’s about standing up against racist rhetoric. It’s about calling out and demanding justice for police brutality. It’s about consequences for the Amy Coopers who use the police as weapons against Black Americans.
There are so many examples of police violence against POC, but especially Black people. The police are perpetuating this system of violence over decades. Look at this timeline of how white people have controlled Black people and tell me we don’t have a lot to work on?
The police riots are in response to the unjust practices of the police force. In Minneapolis, the officers involved in the death of George Floyd were fired, but no charges have been brought against them for his murder (As of this afternoon, the officer who killed Floyd was charged with 3rd degree murder.). The murder that was caught on video. The murder that went viral for our morbid fascination with death. Which we have seen hundreds of times with a different black person dying at the hands of the police. It’s the middle of a pandemic, but racism doesn’t stop. Like in New York, where the NYPD disproportionately arrest people of color more than white communities for not social distancing correctly.
Do you hear what they shout in the protests? “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE”
Rioting is nearly an American past time. The Boston Tea Party comes to mind. The Stonewall Riots, the Civil Rights Riots. White people riot all the time when their sports teams win or lose and no one bats an eye. In this modern era when Black people riot, instead of listening, we get placating rhetoric like, “why resort to violence?” “Peaceful protesting is better to send a message.” Oh, is it, Karen? Then how come every white person who watches football was absolutely losing their minds when Colin Kaepernick was kneeling peacefully to protest police brutality? Because you sure sound like a hypocrite right now.
My intention with this post is to convey to people reading, who are majority white, that we have to do better. It takes a long time to understand and re-learn ingrained biases, but I promise you it will make such a difference in how you see the world and live your life with more compassion. If you don’t think you have any biases, I would encourage you to look at the below resources and understand the material before making such a statement, it’s coming from a place of ignorance.
I’m not saying I’m a perfect ally because I’m definitely not, I’m just using my voice to talk about this topic that has been uncomfortable for decades at white homes. It’s time to live in that uncomfortable space. PEOPLE ARE DYING. We have to do better than pretend it’s not our problem.
Not only are people dying at the hands of police, but Trump has tweeted in the last 24 hours “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and let me tell you, he’s not going to be shooting white people. His reference to “THUGS” here is coded language for Black people. A white supremacist is the leader of this country. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can vote him out of office. He’s killed 100,00 people by being a narcissistic authoritarian. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself and the people who are hurt worst by this pandemic are people of color and minorities. Even just a couple days ago he was tweeting that he’s mad at Twitter for fact checking him, which is apparently more important in this pandemic than saving actual lives.
I wrote this post today to show how all of these events are connected. I wrote this post today to be a better ally for the Black community. I wrote this post today to convey to other white people that we can always do better. I wrote this post today in honor of people of color who have lost their lives to police violence. Please look at the resources below and donate if you can.
Official George Floyd Memorial Fund: This fund is established to cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist our family in the days to come as we continue to seek justice for George. A portion of these funds will also go to the Estate of George Floyd for the benefit and care of his children and their educational fund.
Minnesota Freedom Fund: The Minnesota Freedom Fund pays criminal bail and immigration bond for those who cannot afford to as we seek to end discriminatory, coercive, and oppressive jailing.
ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation’s guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
Black Lives Matter: #BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.
Reclaim the Block: Reclaim the Block began in 2018 and organizes Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that truly promote community health and safety.
Southern Poverty Law Center: The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status–much like their grandparents before them.In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community–and all of us–to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
In So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.
The first edition of this best-selling book showed that alongside the subtle forms of discrimination typical of the post-Civil Rights era, new powerful ideology of “color-blind racism” has emerged. Bonilla-Silva documented how beneath the rhetorical maze of contemporary racial discourse lies a full-blown arsenal of arguments, phrases, and stories that whites use to account for and ultimately justify racial inequities.
In the new edition Bonilla-Silva has added a chapter dealing with the future of racial stratification in America that goes beyond the white / black dichotomy. He argues that the U.S. is developing a more complex and apparently “plural” racial order that will mimic Latin American patterns of racial stratification. Another new chapter addresses a variety of questions from readers of the first edition. And he has updated the book throughout with new information, data, and references where appropriate. The book ends with a new Postscript, “What is to be Done (For Real?)”. As in the highly acclaimed first edition, Bonilla-Silva continues to challenge color-blind thinking.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.
Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo — to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
More reading lists:
Goodreads – “Books White People Need to Read”
Charis Books & More – “Understanding and Dismantling Racism: A Booklist for White Readers”
Books for Understanding – “Race Relations in the U.S.”
Buzzfeed – “An Essential Reading Guide for Fighting Racism”
Click here to see previous entries.
Stay safe ♥