During the last hour, the following thoughts have popped in my head:
- How do I unclog my bathtub drain since my landlords are being unresponsive?
- Why did I ever let my daughter watch the Disney Channel WHY oh WHY oh WHY just shoot me
- I wish that someone would deliver me Doritos
- OMG Irma and Harvey. What can I do to help Florida and Houston? Me being stuck in bathtub water pales in comparison to that.
But these thoughts don’t compare to a bigger thought that’s been on my brain: how can I fight the hate and racism I see aimed at people of color in this world? What do I need to change? And how do I convince more white people that this is important?
It seems that many white Americans were shocked by what happened in Charlottesville. Among the people of color I spoke with, shock was not the primary emotion expressed. They have been fighting the battle against hate, stereotypes, and inequality for SO LONG. This is the narrative they have experienced.
But here’s the thing. We white Americans need to realize it’s OUR story, too. It’s the story of our country. It’s a story that involves us taking responsibility for the disparaging inequality in our country that is fueled by hate, fear, and stupidity.
I think that even the most “progressive” white people haven’t taken adequate time to really stop and examine the stories of the victims of police brutality that have come into light over the last couple of years. I don’t think white Americans, including myself, have paid attention enough or felt enough empathy to FIGHT against the discrimination that is aimed at our brothers and sisters of color everyday. Every. Single. Freaking. Day.
It concerns me that we are fueled by fear not based on facts.
It concerns me that there are people in this country right now who have a disturbing idea of what love is. There are members of the white supremacist movement who say they are in it because they just love white people and love their country. I’m speaking to white Americans now when I say… do you hear how disturbing and disconcerting that sounds–to use the word, love, to give you permission to hate?
I was at a meeting last week where the topic of discussion was racism and inequity. A white woman had a sudden revelation. She raised her hand and said, “If people of color could have won the war on racism by themselves, it would have already been won by now. White people really need to see that. We need to join the fight,” and I looked at her in wonderment because I knew she was right. White Americans need to feel the urgency of this problem.
Part of doing the work and fighting the fight, is acknowledging that many institutions have policies in place which allow racism to occur. And the reason those policies are there is because racism is a pervasive and insidious beast. Have you seen this graphic?
(Via Showing Up for Racial Justice)
Look at that damn triangle there. Look at the statements both inside and outside of it. ALL of this needs to be examined and carefully looked at by White people, including myself.
How many times have people of color told their stories of inequality, prejudice, and discrimination to white individuals, and they haven’t believed them? How many times have white people stated that white privilege “isn’t real” or even that racism isn’t real?
Do you know what happens when you, or a member of your family has experienced trauma, disparagement, or even violence, and you tell your story to another person and he or she doesn’t believe you? Or doesn’t think it could be “that bad?” Or tries to tell you a story about something that happened to him or her as a way to get you to stop thinking about what happened to you?
I can tell you what happens. You become hurt, scared, or even angry. When you speak of personal or familial trauma, disparagement, or violence, and your story isn’t acknowledged or taken seriously, it can actually make the trauma worse.
This is why I can’t tolerate someone saying, “All lives matter,” in response to “Black Lives Matter.” It’s like me standing up and telling you that I want to speak to you about women who are victims of domestic violence that need help, and your response is, “well all women need help.”
Like seriously, what in the actual HECK is causing people to not listen right now? I would say it is time to fight this war on racism, but the thing is, it has BEEN the time to fight for such a long time, that now it’s actually a time for urgent responsibility. I cannot ask you to fight with me if you don’t take responsibility-responsibility for the violence, discrimination, and inequality in our country that is surviving because it’s fed by statements like, “don’t blame me.”
Please. Please have the courage to show up with urgency.