The world is in an uproar, and it's about damn time. Ever since the murder of George Floyd, protestors have taken to the streets to proclaim that enough is enough. Black Lives Matter. Police brutality needs to end. And us white people are finally waking up.
Throughout COVID and now these Black Lives Matter protests, there's this article from 2017 that I keep going back to. It’s titled I Don’t Know How to Explain to You That You Should Care About Other People. And while the article doesn't pertain to whats happening right now, something about that title sticks with me. It brings up a hard truth that in some ways, the world no longer prioritizes caring for other people. When the world asked for people to wear masks for the health of their community, they instead focused on their “personal freedom” and refused. And now, as protesters take to the streets asking for justice and the ability to live in this country without fear of being killed because of the color of their skin, people complain about their methods.
So here it is. I really don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about people, but you should. You should care about your fellow humans. You should care so much that you’re outraged. You should care so much that you’re lending support. You should care so much that even though you may mess up with how you’re caring, you’re willing to listen and then do it better the next day.
This fight isn't over, we still have a long way to go. But in order to get there, we need people to passionately care.
And as a white person, I am fully aware that, overall, my voice isn’t the one you need to hear right now. For white people, right now is a time for listening. It is a time for standing up for POC. It is not a time for sharing our stories, but a time to lift up the stories of our black brothers and sisters.
That being said, today’s blog is going to be different. While I typically focus on self improvement and self reflection, now is a time to help improve the lives of black people in this country. Today I’m turning the microphone to amplify their voices. I’ll be sharing a few posts from my friends on Facebook as well as sharing articles and resources to help myself and you learn, grow, and help. I challenge you to read, donate if you can, write in to your local leaders, and learn. So here we go...
Some posts that impacted me...
First up, a post from Evan Duff, one of my college classmates:
"For those of y’all reaching out. No. I’m not okay. None of the Black people you know are okay. I cannot explain the amount of fear, anger, and heartbreak involved. America has some big questions to answer. Like why the invention of the “Negro” ever happened in the first place. Why for generations has America gone out of it’s way to murder, rape, disenfranchise, and oppress a group of people they kidnapped?
Every Black person has been experiencing a reality steeped in difficulty from the day they are born. Racism is in the structure of America. In ways you may not know about or have tried to look away from because it made you uncomfortable. I experience racism in so many interactions I have daily. I see it when I get followed in stores for fear of theft (all. the. time.) I saw it in the “liberal” white women who walked into the fitness studio I worked at and treated me like I was a dog — there to serve them and bend to their every will, even when it wasn’t my job or was against company policy. Those women who subconsciously still saw “slave” when they saw me behind the counter working my minimum-wage job. I saw it when I was catering and worked for the “upper echelon” white people of New York City who would snap their fingers at me, shove me, and look at me as if the only job I could/would ever have would be serving them finger food. Microaggressions are real. Police Brutality is real. Modern Day Lynchings are real. Racism is real. It feels like society’s way of telling you over and over “You ain’t shit and you ain’t ever gonna have shit”. And let me tell you something…WE. ARE. TIRED. PERIOD.
America needs a healing. But more importantly it needs education. Our public education system is in need of a massive overhaul. If we don’t teach kids about America’s reality, then the future is bleak. No more revisionist history that implies that all great innovation in society came from white men. Teach of the truth and greatness of Africa. Put James Baldwin and Alice Walker in your literature classes. And start early; my mother showed me The Color Purple as a child and I am all the better for it; trust and believe. Stop teaching the same regurgitated facts about Beethoven and Bach in your general music classes from year after year from K-12. Introduce students to the great innovations of Black music — the spiritual, jazz, gospel, RnB, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, The Clark Sisters, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Quincy Jones (the list goes on because Black excellence just overflows).
But most importantly teach kids about the realities of chattel slavery, Jim Crow, the New Jim Crow, The Prison Industrial Complex, Police Brutality, the War on “Drugs” (Black People), Colorism, the KKK, lynchings etc. Don’t sugarcoat it. Don’t just put in a couple paragraphs or make it one lesson one day in class. Because for Black people it isn’t just one paragraph or difficult day in class. For us it is every day. And maybe if we stop trying to hide from what is uncomfortable we can have a generation of white people who don’t question Black people when they mention racism and don’t have to ask, “How can I be a better ally?”. They will already know and the burden can be taken off an already exhausted people.
Second, a post from a Anisha Brown, a fellow actress in Orlando:
"While I am still enraged by all that's going on, I have decided to try and find a way to pro
actively change my immediate surroundings and help all my friends who have been supportive. I am encouraged because people are finally starting to understand the weight that comes with being a Black American.
I have spent my entire life trying to be "white people friendly". Don't make them uncomfortable. Don't be too angry, just sassy. Make them feel safe around you. Even writing this is scaring me because there will surely be a friend that asks "you don't do that around me,right?" Yes, I do. Almost every black person you've ever met is just trying to be seen as non- threatening and your equal. That's why this hurts so bad. Years of running in circles and doing the song and dance just right never seemed to help. None of that was going to work anyway, so I'm stopping all forms of it. Forever.
From here on out I will be dealing with any micro-aggression and subconscious racism head on. These tiny digs are hurtful and dangerous because people don't even realize that they're wrong.
"You talk like a white girl"- nope
"Reaching to touch my hair"- aht aht
"You do that? That's so white"- I'm black. Anything I do is black, because I'm black.
"You're getting so dark"- thanks,but stop. My melanin STAYS glowing.
"I mean, I'm not talking about you"- you are.
If any of these seem like obnoxiously obvious no-no's PLEASE know I deal with some version of this almost daily! These are just the typical offenders. ALL versions will be addressed so I can help you. If you're thinking it's going to be exhausting to try to not touch any trigger words to offend me, remember it's been happening for 400+ years by people who still don't get treated fairly. You'll be fine.
It's not hard to be on the right side of this.
#blacklivesmatter " - Anisha Brown, via Facebook, 06/04/2020
Lastly this article includes several stories from actors of color in the Broadway community, a community close to my heart: click here.
Now for some resources...
How to Be an Ally
As a start, check out Great Big Story's article "How You Can Be An Ally to the Black Lives Matter Movement." There are a lot of articles out there, this was one of my favorites.
8 Can't Wait
This is a site promoting eight policies that have been proven to reduce police violence by 72%. Click here to go directly to the sight, click on your city, and contact your mayor or police chief to start employing these policies.
Furthermore, you can click this link for the list of cities and pre-written emails. You just fill in your info from there.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
I get that money may be tight for some people during this Coronavirus time, but if you have the ability to donate, here are some causes:
Another way to financially support the cause is through supporting black owned businesses like bookstores, local restaurants, and Black Owned Etsy Shops.
Also THIS LINK takes you to an hour long Youtube video with countless adds. Honestly I'm not sure how it works, but the more people who watch the ads, the more money goes to BLM organizations. A great way to donate if funds are tight. And you'll hear amazing music, poems, and messages from black artists while you do.
The African American Museum portal "Talking About Race"
Click here for a list of books to read
Click here for a list of documentaries to watch. I just watched 13th on Netflix and it was really eye opening.
There are countless other resources that you can find online, but this seemed like a good place to start.
Black Lives Matter. Stand up, stay safe, stay diligent. Love to all.