In just the last month or so, Ahmad Aubrey was shot while going for a run and Breonna Taylor was shot by police in her own home. And then, in one day, we watched the modern day lynching of George Floyd by a white police officer while a white woman chillingly threatened a black man with her white woman tears. To all of this and all that came before it, I have no words.
Some have asked why there seems to be an uptick in racial violence. The response I have heard most often is, there isn’t one. It’s just that these incidents are being recorded so that we are seeing more of it with our own eyes. Those of us who need evidence are getting it, because for many, it was too easy to turn a blind eye to those who have suffered at the hands of racial injustice and violence.
Witnessing such blatant actions of racism make it impossible for us to explain it away and hide from our feelings about what we have seen. White people are good at explaining away microaggressions (and outright racism for that matter) that anyone who is not white experiences all too often. Maybe, it’s time to stop that nonsense and DO something about what we’ve been seeing rather than stay in our nice comfortable bubble.
One thing I have learned is not to place the burden on people of color to educate us. Asking them to assuage our guilt or to speak for every person of color is completely unfair. We must do the work ourselves. At the same time, very often, we need to do less talking and way more listening if we want to be the white allies that we must be.
I am no expert. But I have been doing my best to learn more. This is not easy work and I get it wrong, a lot. So, my ego takes a few hits, I cringe over the things that come out of my mouth and I determine to learn from my mistakes. Dr. Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
And so, I’ve compiled a list of where we can all start. Imagine if more people took the time to read even a few of these books and began conversations with their children and partners about what they learned? What if some of us white people got together and unpacked some of the things that we learned (book club anyone)? What if we began to understand even a fraction of the systematic racism in our country that we have all unwittingly benefited from by diversifying our social media consumption and podcast list? What change would we start?
First, start by reading “For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies” – Courtney Ariel then, pick a few from each category. Diversify your social media feed, buy a few of these books from independent book sellers and listen!
**You can find a much longer list of books HERE
The Joy Trip Project (Madison local)
Black Coffee With White Friends (Instagram only)
Black Like Me (A Madison local)
Code Switch (NPR)
1619 Project (NY Times)
5 Tips for Being An Ally (video)
Of COURSE this is just a fraction of what is available. My goal here is to get the conversation going and to encourage everyone to find a place to start. It’s also vitally important to give money to the organizations many of the above are leading. Do your research, support what you can, and get uncomfortable. Let’s start talking about the thing that no one wants to talk about and speaking up in places we are not expected to speak up in. There are no other options.