Updated: Jun 17, 2020
I am a white woman, a feminist, and I believe that Black Lives Matter. On Friday, as we took in more mind-numbing news with mouths agape, a notification popped up on my phone for an emergency Black Lives Matter support group Zoom. I am a proud member of an entrepreneurial club that intimately brings badass women together. We create, debate, inspire, craft, and totally cry together. I naively thought we would be immune to the chaos happening in the streets. I thought heartbreaking but calm energy would guide the group into a zen/kumbaya level of “we can solve this together” nirvana. I am also an idiot.
It began with tears. Words from Black women who have accomplished more than I have ten-fold declaring, “I am tired”, “I thought going to Harvard would keep me safe”, “I thought becoming a lawyer at a top NYC firm would keep me safe”, “The only difference between the dead and us is luck”.
I sobbed with them. I AGREE. “YES!” I thought in silence as I listened, “I too am fucking angry and feel hopeless!”
Halfway through the call, another woman spoke and it was as if she reached through the screen and yelled “WAKE UP!” She began that she didn’t know what she expected when she joined the call but was immediately triggered when she saw so many whites faces gazing out. It was voyeurism, and it wasn’t the safe space she badly needed to properly grieve. A few more members spoke and agreed they didn’t need to see more white tears. The moderator kindly asked the white and ally members to leave the call. This space was not for us.
I sat in silence for a long time. My presence was causing more hurt. I was not helping. We were not helping. And this is where I lose my words. What can we do if silence is not an option and speaking or sharing is not helpful either? I don’t have the answers. I do know, however, that this needs to be a call to all white people to acknowledge our privilege instead of pretending that we are equal. Instead of “not seeing race” we need to open our eyes to seeing and LOVING the differences. We need to shut up and listen. We need to make space and step aside.
As a liberal, I think we feel somehow absolved of being the oppressor. “We aren’t the bad guys.” We aren’t going out and attacking people or yelling at them in parks. But Amy Cooper proved that wrong. Just because we aren’t the obvious monsters doesn’t make us angels.
The change we all crave was not happening in the world we used to live in. We need to take a hard look at why and take action.
Accept hard truths. We need to accept that we are sometimes part of the problem. We need to accept that sometimes we are not actually helping. Reflect on how your behavior is affecting POC.
UNLEARN. Add to our reading list. A few ones to start with are White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. (Bonus round also read Coate’s We Were Eight Years in Power)
Listen. To voices that you are not used to or that may cause you discomfort. Dig in and get uncomfortable. That is how we grow.
Donate. If you have the means. A few are Black Lives Matter, Minnesota Freedom Fund, Black Visions Collective, Unicorn Riot, Campaign Zero, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, and Color of Change.
Vote. We have the power to change our representation and it starts with the smaller elections. Educate yourself.
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What Do I Do? is a podcast and blog about current events for folx who want to get involved. The goal of “What Do I Do?” is to use levity and brevity to identify approachable ways for folx to take action during a time where the world’s issues are very overwhelming. We talk about one thing happening in the world (social issues, politics, current events) and finish by identifying specific action steps a person can use to get involved whether they are physical, financial, emotional, or other.
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