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NOBODY WANTS TO READ THIS
A few days ago, I posted an article titled Black Lives and White Saviors. Nobody read it. Why? Probably because the internet is littered with comments on race and mine is just another small voice in the tumult. Nobody wants to read another white middle-class woman whine about how they don't know how to help, as if somehow assuring everyone I'm not racist is going to help anyone. I almost took the article down. After making some albeit minor efforts to educate myself, I realized how my insecurity and assurances are doing nothing to help anyone. It's the equivalent of saying, "I have black friends" as "proof" I'm not a bigot, but then turning a blind eye to the discrimination my friend faces.
The truth is, I reap the benefits of being a white person in our society. Most of the time, I don't even realize it because I have accepted them all of my life. I take them for granted. That is what my white privilege is. I'm not sure yet what I can do about that, except work to ensure that people of color will receive the same privileges and considerations I now enjoy. It is not something that will happen overnight. It's going to be a long process and a continuous fight. It has to continue even after the protests for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have stopped. It's not something I can be passive about if I don't want to be part of the problem.
The steps I have taken in the past four days:
1. Friends online are starting a book club in an effort to get more in-depth about what the problems are and listen to black authors' perspectives. Our first book is White Fragility by Robin Deangelo (who is white). Only a few chapters in and I'm starting to understand a lot more than I did before. It was both frustrating and encouraging to discover that this book was checked out at my local library and was sold out on Amazon. I ended up with the Audible version (the only Audible book I have now), which is somewhat dryly read, but informative. I'll post a review of that book when I'm finished.
2. Researched charities that provide bail funds to protesters. Why did I choose this angle? Because I was trying to imagine being out there myself, carrying signs, and marching with activists. Then, as my anxious mind tends to do, I began to imagine violent scenarios where I'm beaten and handcuffed and jailed. I would wait in jail likely for quite a while since I don't have money to bail myself out. It's pretty easy to see how I arrived at the conclusion to fund bail. I do like to thoroughly vet a charity before I give because there are a number of groups that take advantage of situations like this to scam people out of their money. The IRS and BBB are good places to start when investigating a charity.
3. I'm writing about it, keeping a dialogue, and trying to share informative and useful resources. While these efforts may seem paltry and likely won't reach a wide audience, I will say that I am a research junkie when it comes to my writing. So, even if nobody reads this article either, I will have learned a lot for myself.
That's all I've accomplished so far. I'm leery of my actions coming as a result of "jumping on the bandwagon." Am I rushing to support the Black Lives Matter movement because it's trendy to do so? When things die down, will I continue to support equality activism? I am the kind of person, historically, who finds a project, goes big with it, and then loses enthusiasm. So what will I do differently this time? Finding realistic ways that I can sustain is key. In light of the coronavirus crisis, I've been keeping to myself. Even when there isn't a global pandemic, my anxiety often keeps me indoors. Making a promise to go door to door with a campaign or join my local civil rights march are not realistic actions for me. But, there are still things I can do that fit better with my limitations and if I focus on them, I can help in ways that I will sustain.
What can I do from home?
1. Voice my concerns with my state and local representatives. I can hold them accountable for their actions and demand change.
2. Make masks for protesters.
3. Support black-owned businesses.
4. Create a sign or a banner (or a protest flier).
5. Share information from reliable sources only.
6. Continue to educate myself and make education accessible to others.
As always, don't just take my word for it.
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