WHITE PEOPLE, this one’s for us. Specifically for us. (Although, of course, anyone is free to read.)
When there’s a crisis, we progressive white folks get all riled up and put out our BLACK LIVES MATTER signs and participate in protests, put bumper stickers on our cars, maybe purchase a T-shirt, etc.
Then we celebrate the conviction of ONE police officer for the murder of ONE Black person in ONE high-profile case (yes, I’m talking about George Floyd), and we breathe a sigh of relief. (And the Ahmaud Arbery case? which is still going on? Are you following that?)
Maybe we are not blind to the fact that people of color are still being killed, with no one brought to account. Maybe, while seeing what’s happening, we sink into despair, throw up our hands, retreat into our personal spiritual practices, and whimper, “What can I do?! The problems are too big, the system too strong….”. Ad infinitum.
Meanwhile, the status quo of white supremacy, which has not been displaced, or even interrupted (unless you count hiccups), settles back into its old familiar groove, its old familiar rhythm.
Until the next crisis. Until the next high-profile case. Until the next in-your-face video that will not allow us to look away.
I’m speaking to my people. Or rather, the ones who decided FOR ME that they were “my people” before I was old enough to decide. I’m speaking to WHITE people, and especially liberal/progressive white people like me.
Our Black and Brown siblings do not have the luxury of pulling back, of taking an extended vacation. They cannot avoid the daily aggressions, micro- and macro-, that assault them, because they live in Black and Brown skins.
(Although let me say here that I pray that my Black and Brown relations do take a moment, a break, a pause, a nap. To bolster your resilience. To take care of your precious Being.)
Our BIPOC siblings are out there fighting to get monuments and artifacts removed, to get school curricula changed, to create fair housing practices and laws. Because it is in these places that the roots of white supremacy continue to thrive. Those roots dig deep and spread, often unnoticed by white people like us–
Because we do not have to notice them. Because our skins are called white.
You guessed it. Until the next crisis.
There will be no end of George Floyds and Breonna Taylors and Ahmaud Arberys and Sandra Blands and Michael Browns and Trayvon Martins and Tamir Rices and…and…and…
There will be NO END if we do not attend to the roots and out-croppings of white supremacy. In the ways we teach history to our children, not only in books, but in the artifacts and monuments that celebrate the agents of oppression. In the ways we zone neighborhoods. In the ways we allow gentrification to over-run neighborhoods. In the micro-aggressions we continue to commit against people of color, and fail even to notice or understand out of willful ignorance.
If you can’t figure out what to do, DON’T ask a Black or Brown person! They been carrying this load for you, for us, for too long. And besides, they been telling us for decades, and we haven’t paid attention. We know how to use Google! The resources are out there. It’s on us to find them.
Our silence IS violence. So let’s go out there and speak up.
And if you’ve read this far, know that I love you, and we are in this fight together.