For those of you who keep track, yes, it is my week to post a recipe. And I promise next week I will do so. But this week, as we remember George Floyd and all of the others before him, our friends and colleagues are badly hurting, my beautiful Minneapolis is burning, the National Guard is walking the streets, I just figured we had bigger things to talk about then what to have for dinner. And when I am feeling big emotions I write. Maybe my words will help someone else see what needs to be done. Or at least give you a starting point in the conversation this country needs to have on race.
AN UPDATE (6/6/2020): It has been brought to my attention that there is a video with the same title done by an amazing African American pastor and anti-racism promoter named Osheta Moore (thanks for bringing this to my attention AnnaKain93). This post actually came out of a bunch of conversations that I had had with various people about how to talk about race as a white person. Although I hadn’t seen this video previously to writing this post, certainly one of those multiple people I had spoken to may have seen her video or read her words somewhere (or maybe even more than one-it’s popular for good reason). These were the themes that had been discussed and therefore what I decided to highlight. Having said that-you should not only watch this great video, but should follow Osheta Moore, her words are super impactful, and obviously have been heard by many. I hope to continue to amplify these thoughts (and I like the words even better in her voice-she calls us all Peacemakers!) and I hope that you will help me. https://www.instagram.com/oshetamoore/
Let me preface this by saying that this is not about me. I sat for a long time with whether or not to even write this. After all, who really wants to hear the opinions of a suburban white woman? Especially one who is privileged in so many ways. But then I reconsidered. Maybe my silence could be mistaken as complicity. We have a fair amount of followers on our little blog. And maybe what I can do to help, is to use my voice, even if I can only speak to my own journey to become a better ally.
By all means, the stories we need to be listening to are those experiences lived by people of color. And I mean listen, really LISTEN, to what their experiences have been. If you are a person of color please keep talking, keep telling your stories. But let’s also keep in mind that it is not the person of color’s job to educate you. It is time we all do the work. If you need a place to start your own journey to become a better ally, well, let’s get the conversation started. And let’s start with: I’m sorry. I’m listening. I’m learning.
Let me say that again. I’m sorry. I’m listening. I’m learning.
Let ME start by saying I am sorry. I am so sorry that the world is so unjust. And I’m trying to learn more about not only how we got here, but how we as a society can fix it. On a plane to Napa last February, I read “Just Mercy” by lawyer Bryan Stephenson. The book chronicles Stevenson’s work in Alabama where he founded the Equal Justice Initiative and defends innocent men of color placed on death row. The stories related in the book seem fictionalized to those of us who haven’t lived that reality. Until you realize that they are absolutely real. And that this book takes place in THIS century. It was horrifying to see firsthand how unjust the justice system can be. I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a judge, I’m not a police officer. How can I help to fix the system?
Fast forward to May 25th, 2020 when a man named George Floyd was detained and murdered by 4 policemen in the Powderhorn neighborhood of Minneapolis, MN. The alleged crime? Paying for groceries with a “counterfeited” $20 bill. This ignited race riots in Minneapolis, the extent of which we have not seen around here before. George Floyd’s death has taken the veil off of racism in Minnesota. People are so rightly outraged, buildings are burning, businesses have been looted. The firing of the police officers was swift (it will have NEVER been swift enough, but swift relative to all of the other cases). The charges against these officers have been much less swift, and 3 of the 4 have still not been charged. The entire event has served as a catalyst for race discussion and has once again pointed out the glaring inequities here in our communities -that those of us who do not face these inequities daily have either willingly, or unwillingly, ignored.
I’m listening. America, it is time to stop ignoring ugly truths. You may not be terrified when your kids leave the house, when a police officer pulls you over, when you are accused of a petty crime, when you walk down an unfamiliar street, but those are the fears that are experienced by so many. These fears are in the hearts and minds of our friends and colleagues and sisters and brothers EVERY DAY. George Floyd is the latest in a long line of people who have been targeted or treated unjustly because of the color of their skin. And those are the just the ones that make the media-we all know there are so many more cases. As much as it pains me to see my beautiful city burning, the REAL problem is the people who have had their voices and spirits silenced for long. Listen to the black protestors. They are trying to make their voices heard. They are trying to tell you. They are trying to make you understand their reality. “I didn’t know” is not an excuse anymore.
It is time to stop ignoring the reality that our brothers and sisters, colleagues and friends are living. It is time to stop ignoring the fact that some of the police don’t protect everyone. It is time to stop ignoring the fact that the justice system isn’t just for everyone. It is time to stop ignoring that health care isn’t always equitable for all. It is time to check our biases and privilege at the door. To do whatever we can to make the world a more just place. A more equitable place. A BETTER place.
How can we as a nation start to heal? LISTEN. It’s that simple. Listen to people of color. Listen to the very groups that are suffering these inequities and may have a different lived experience then you do. I, as a white person, have a responsibility to listen, support, validate, and speak out. I have a responsibility to be an ally. To call out injustice when I see it. We ALL have that responsibility. And it is high time we start acting on that responsibility.
I’m learning. I’m reading everything I can get my hands on to learn more. It is my responsibility to get educated. To keep my eyes and ears open to the many lessons about race that I need to learn. Many amazing authors have made it easy to start doing this work. Many podcasts are available to educate. Listen to the people in your community around you. Donate to organizations in your community that help to strengthen equality and justice.
I’m also helping my children to learn. Keep talking to them. Bring them to peaceful protests. Answer their questions (my 9 year old had so many I hadn’t considered). If you don’t know the answers, pledge to find them-and then find them. Provide them age appropriate books with themes on race and protagonists who are people of color. Above all, model anti-racist behavior. After all they will learn from you.
Here is some recommended reading (caveat: I have not yet read them all, but I am working my way through them).
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
When They Call you a Terrorist by Asha Bandele and Patrisse Cullors
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad