For the second time in less than a week I find that there is something I have to speak on, but I don’t have the words. Rather, I have too many words. They are hot, thick, soupy words overflowing from the pot and I don’t know if I can organize them into anything that will provide nourishment. Maybe they will provide the fuel. Because as I sit here and read that our justice system is working exactly as it is designed to work, valuing property and police over Breonna Taylor’s life, I find myself bone tired.
Me, a White woman, I don’t get to be bone tired over systemic racism. It is a goddamn privilege to be in the social justice space for a few years and claim tiredness. I can hide in my Whiteness; POC can’t shed their skin. White people, I’m talking to you because you are the only ones I can talk to. We have to suit up and show up. Not just when it’s a trending hashtag. Not when it’s popular. Not by saying, “I don’t know it all but I will listen and learn.” No more. Listen and learn actively and ACT. A profile photo with a BLM overlay is not enough.
“There is no neutrality in the racism struggle…One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is not in between safe space of ‘not racist.’ The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.” -How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
We (White people) need to make antiracism a daily practice. We need to condition it, like a muscle. We need to grow it till it cannot be ignored and is as natural to us as breathing. We need to listen to Black people. We need to support them. We need to care about their Dads, Sons, Daughters & Mothers as much as our own.We need to call it out when we see it, but, at the same time, I don’t think we should waste our energy on people determined to zap it. At this point I don’t believe White people who claim not understand what “Black Lives Matter” means. Or, who dare utter, “All Lives Matter.”
All Lives cannot Matter until Black Lives Matter.
All Lives cannot Matter until Black Lives Matter more than property.
All Lives cannot Matter until Black Lives are more important than a White person’s career.
All Lives cannot Matter until Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean, Philando Castile, and the countless other Black men and women murdered by those sworn to “serve and protect us” lives matter.
Start normalizing “defunding the police.” Say it. Repeat it. Roll the words around in your mouth. Ignore the voices that tell you it’s not palatable to White folks. It’s too radical. Too scary. Remind yourself that a system that finds it acceptable to murder Black people is scary, not re-imagining what policing looks like in this country. Those who don’t want to challenge the system will always find a reason to uphold it. You cannot change the verbiage or make enough concessions to change that.
Black Lives Matter. It shouldn’t take their blood spilled on camera to mean something. It shouldn’t matter if they were a model citizen or had a rap sheet. Police are not supposed to murder people. Normalize that.
If you feel helpless, channel that into work. Look into a local BLM chapter or find a Black-led antiracism group to participate in. Donate to organizations that help Black Lives. Here’s a few (hundred) suggestions. Vote with Black Lives in mind this November. Start having conversations with your White friends and family. Remember, racism is not a Black and Brown problem. It’s an American problem. We all need to participate in rooting it out.
Maybe I had more words than I thought.