Photo by Joe Brusky (Creative Commons)
Instead of my typical "to be sorted" mishmash of nonsense this week, I'd like to focus specifically on recent events, and some important writing I hope you'll take time to read, if you've not done so already.
Last week I read bell hooks' essay, "Loving Blackness as Political Resistance," which I quoted here on this blog. A few sentences in particular have stuck with me, and I'd like to share again here:
"And indeed we must be willing to acknowledge that individuals of great privilege who are in no way victimized are capable, via their political choices, of working on behalf of the oppressed. Such solidarity does not need to be rooted in shared experience. It can be based on one's political and ethical understanding of racism and one's rejection of domination."
Every day I continue to see [white] people decrying the #BlackLivesMatter movement, out of defensiveness and fear and ignorance and misguided intentions. This is pretty much exclusively taking place via my Facebook feed, which I'm sure is not unique to my experience.
We have to get off Facebook and start talking to each other, and more importantly, my fellow white people, we have to LISTEN. Look, I'm learning this too. I'm not just wagging my finger and lecturing. We all can be better! For instance: I don't need to have conversations where I stutter about how my brother is a cop, but he's a good cop, and blah blah blah. I have to do more than share an article with the hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter. I have to do more than write a blog post. It's not enough. It's a start, but it's not enough. It's time to unlearn racism, and consider our shared humanity. Like Trevor Noah said last week:
“For instance, if you’re pro Black Lives Matter you're assumed to be anti-police, and if you're pro-police, then you surely hate black people. When in reality, you can be pro-cop and pro-black, which is what we should all be!”
Perhaps, if you are someone who has shared an #AllLivesMatter meme, or you are the white woman I overheard make a tasteless joke last weekend at the expense of black people, and their lives mattering, you might be willing to reconsider your stance.
Think about why people are saying, tweeting, texting, hashtagging, shouting, crying, pleading: BLACK LIVES MATTER. Then ask yourself, Why was it so hard to consider this point of view? Why was it so hard to acknowledge this reality? If you're unwilling to do these things, do me a favor. PLEASE, shut up. Delete your account. At the very least, delete me.
This is just a teeny, tiny sampling of voices that need to be heard and acknowledged right now:
On Making Black Lives Matter | Roxane Gay for Marie Claire
"Black people do not need allies. We need people to stand up and take on the problems borne of oppression as their own, without remove or distance. We need people to do this even if they cannot fully understand what it's like to be oppressed for their race or ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, class, religion, or other marker of identity. We need people to use common sense to figure out how to participate in social justice."
Stop asking African-Americans to be calm in the face of police brutality & racial terror | Shaun King, NY Daily News
"These aren't hashtags being killed. These are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.
We hear a lot about how Muslims are being radicalized to hate America, but I think it's time that America accept that it is radicalizing millions of African-Americans to a point of boiling rage.
Black men represent less than 10% of all Americans but over 40% of unarmed people killed by American police. Unarmed African-American men and boys are an astounding 700% more likely to be shot and killed by police than unarmed white men. In fact, unarmed black men and boys are killed at almost the same rate by police as armed white men."
A Single Photo From Baton Rouge That's Hard to Forget | Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic
"It is a remarkable picture. A single woman stands in the roadway, feet firmly planted. She poses no obvious threat. She is there to protest the excessive force which Baton Rouge police allegedly deploy against the city’s black citizens. She stands in front of police headquarters, on Saturday. And she is being arrested by officers who look better prepared for a war than a peaceful protest.
There are images that are impossible to forget, searing themselves into our collective consciousness. One man staring down a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square. A high school student attacked by police dogs in Birmingham, Alabama. This is such a photo.
Once seen, it cannot be unseen."
Diamond 'Lavish' Reynolds, Public Witness: On the Killing of Philando Castle | Doreen St. Félix, MTV News
"Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, the Minnesota resident who live-streamed the aftermath of the police shooting of her boyfriend, Philando Castile, Wednesday night, knows that there is another America, defining this other country, a different summer. Diamond Reynolds is living what it means to be public, black, and exposed at the end of a hot July day."
Previously: "the smell of her L'Air du Temps perfume"