It's been a while since I posted anything here. My last post was about Super Tuesday, and it was posted on March 3. Little did we know then, the ground was shifting beneath our feet. In the three months since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has swept through communities large and small across the globe. Last week, the United States surpassed 100,000 total deaths from COVID-19 - more than the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the attacks on September 11 combined.
In the last seven days, amidst the backdrop of COVID-19, the country erupted into protest in memory of George Floyd, an African American man in Minneapolis who was murdered by police officers. While in Louisville, Kentucky, protestors took to the streets to protest in memory of Breonna Taylor, an African American emergency room technician who was murdered by police officers in her own home. And in Tallahassee, Tony McDade, an African American transgender man, was murdered by police officers.
Even in a pandemic (that disproportionately affects communities of color), police brutality and white supremacy did not go away. Even in the time since I started writing this post, more people have been murdered by the police.
I am writing because I am mourning, I am angry, and because I feel a righteous sadness. I also feel like I might have something to offer to the conversation - specifically, some helpful tips for white people who are grappling with what they can do, how their behavior might be problematic, and how they can help make a difference.
1. Educate. First, a definition. What is antiracism?
In the words of Angela Davis, "In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist."
In Ibram X. Kendi's book How to be an Antiracist, he says, "The opposite of racist isn't 'not-racist.' It is 'anti-racist.'"
For more information on antiracism, check out this page from the National Museum of African American History and Culture or the article "What it means to be anti-racist" from Vox.
There are literally hundreds of resources, books, and articles that can inform you on the history of racism, what privilege means, ways in which white supremacy culture manifests, and more. Here are a few resources available on the internet that have been helpful to me:
Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack - A quintessential touchstone for understanding how privilege and white supremacy is embedded in our lives.
White Supremacy Culture - A bulleted list of qualities that are typical of white supremacist culture and their antidotes. This is one of my favorites, and something I return to quite often.
Are You Taking 100% Accountability? - A YouTube video just over 4 minutes long that instructs viewers how to accept 100% responsibility for their actions through the lens of an emergency room.
Maintaining Professionalism in the Age of Black Death Is...A Lot - This article was written in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. It describes the experience of people of color, specifically black folx, who are carrying the weight and exhaustion of this tragedy into their day-to-day work lives.
Five books that have been instructive to me (a non-exhaustive list):
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahesi Coates
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Bonus: Buy any of these books at your local black-owned bookstore.
2. Donate. If you have the means to give, you should.
Here are the organizations that I have donated to:
https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd - This is the memorial fund organized by George Floyd's brother. Donations will help cover funeral fees, mental health care for trauma suffered by the family, the cost of legal proceedings, and will go directly to George Floyd's children and their educational funds.
https://www.joincampaignzero.org/ - Campaign Zero was founded by Black Lives Matter activists and pushes ten specific policy proposals to help eliminate police brutality, increase accountability, and ensure community engagement in public safety practices.
http://www.blacklivesmatterdmv.org/ - Black Lives Matter DMV is on the forefront of the protests in DC. Your donation will go towards empowering leaders within the community standing up against President Trump and the tear gas and rubber bullets that he has unleashed against them. It will also go to cover the costs of the Freedom House - the venue for BLMDMV meetings and sanctuary. Click here to also support the Black Lives Matter DMV Legal Support Fund.
https://www.cuapb.org/ - Communities United Against Police Brutality is a Minnesota-based organization that has been operating for 20 years in the Twin Cities. They advocate for police reform in Minneapolis and they provide support for the families of victims of police brutality.
3. Participate. Take an antiracism workshop. My life changed when I participated in a series of workshops with Insight-Incite Collective. Through workshops with my colleagues, I started to learn about ways in which I am a part of the problem. I learned about my blindspots, microaggressions that I perpetrate, and about the transformation needed within myself, my work environment, and society to support all people, especially people of color. If it sounds uncomfortable, it is and it was. But the discomfort was a symptom of a greater purpose: I was learning to be antiracist. This work did not stop with the workshops, nor will it ever end. It is a lifelong journey, and something I need to reckon with every day. Some days I fail, some days I succeed. I am beyond grateful to have had the experience and would highly recommend it to white folx who are interested in learning about systemic racism and how it can be addressed within ourselves and the world around us.
Here are some organizations doing work to lead conversations like these:
4. Vote. Don't get me started on how difficult it is for voters to get information - especially for local and state elections. That said, these are often the most important elections. Think of elections as a hiring process. Your vote hires the people who nominate/confirm judges, who provide oversight of public safety, and who can direct funding to programs (like non-violent intervention in communities). If you were hiring for a job, you would do everything you could to get informed - and that's the same for elections. Vote in November, and vote in all of the other elections that might occur before then, as well!
Starting today, for anyone who requests it, I promise to put my Masters in Public Policy to work and research/write a summary of the candidates and issues on your ballot, which I will make available at thefrankpage.com. For free. All you have to do is let me know you want it, and I'll be happy to provide insight.
In the time since I started writing this post, there has (thankfully) been a huge amount of work done to consolidate resources. Please check out this link for National Resources - including, but not limited to:
Mental health resources
Black history/revolutionary texts/antiracism library
Right now, the furor and mourning is at a peak. The United States Army has been deployed against the citizens it is sworn to protect. But, as President Obama said on Wednesday in a town hall for My Brother's Keeper Alliance, there will be a day, one day, when attention starts to fade, and protests start to dwindle. That is not an invitation to return to complacency, or to give up in the fight for equality and equity. We have had enough. It is time for change. And I hope that this post serves as a resource in the continuing struggle for change.