WAKING UP: PART THREE

I am angry.

I am so, so angry. White people posting about their liberty being taken away. Showing up to the state capitol with assault rifles in protest that we’ve been asked to keep our white ass home while a black woman in Kentucky is shot to death in her own bed by police officers who went to the wrong house to arrest someone who didn’t live there and had already been taken into custody. #breonnataylor

White women sharing memes of Offred acting like being asked to stay home is silencing our rights and whining about how the SIP order is preventing them from going out for glass of champs with the girls while first responders and ER crews zip body bags and head home in isolation from their families for risk of infecting them. 

What has become of us? What will it take for us to care more about the world than ourselves? When will we remember that we are part of it?

 Do you understand why I am so angry?

And do you know how late my anger is to this party? About 401 years

As I write this the numbers Kendi referenced have already increased, showing that black and brown bodies are being infected even more disproportionately than white bodies. Data published on May 8th, 2020 from the CDC (see Table 2a) show that in 27 reporting states, all but 9 (AZ, IN, MA, MN, NJ, OH, PA, TN, WA) have a higher distribution of death for Black residents from COVID-19 than for their respective weighted population. Mississippi, for example, is comprised of 42.3% Non-Hispanic Black or African American residents, yet that same group represents 61% of COVID-19 deaths. The COVID19Race Dashboard indicates that in the District of Columbia non whites comprise nearly 89% of COVID-19 deaths. EIGHTY.NINE.PERCENT.

Do you really think Trump’s pivot from emergency to stand down status is not intentional? No. It absolutely is. Here’s more from the Atlantic on that, which explains how a racial contract is used to uphold White Supremacy. Read it too, please. 

People are starting to wake up en masse, again. This work is not new, we just may be new to it (thank you to Ally Henny for that language and framing). It happens in cycles, over and over, and here we are at the point of social change when we see a problem, acknowledge the problem, and say we want to do something to fix it. Sometimes we do, but most of the time we default back to the system that was working just fine for us, as individuals, before. 

All change can be difficult, but replacing our existing thoughts, attitudes, habits and beliefs because we realize that keeping them costs lives is intense work. We have to do it anyway.

My experience has been that when we white folks decide we are ready to do the work we usually ask a person of color to tell us what to do. But white folks, they’ve been telling us, we haven’t been listening.

So, in an effort to work as an ally, and to direct attention to those incredible contributions, I’m going to spend the next 30 days inviting you into the work. If I can inspire ten people to join me and share what was learned, and those ten inspire ten more, who inspire ten more, well, now that’s some exponential growth we can get behind then, yeah? 

I’ll be posting on my social media feeds daily:

  • One annotated resource share from an author of color or an ally whose work was directly informed by black and brown folks on the topic of racism/white supremacy
  • One reflection question
  • One action item

You in? Great. Let’s get to work. I’ll leave you with this, which should look familiar because you already read it, right?

The individual should be restricted from harming the community. The individual should be free to aid the community. When the community is king, the individual is no longer subjected, but protected.

But some Americans want to live in a society that frees them, as individuals, by subjugating the community. That was the psyche of the slaveholder, who believed he was free only if the community was enslaved.

I want to live in a society that frees me, as an individual, by freeing my community. That was the psyche of the enslaved who knew she was enslaved only because her community was enslaved.

There is something about living through a deadly pandemic that cuts open the shell, removes the flesh, and finds the very core of American existence: the slaveholder clamoring for his freedom to infect, and the enslaved clamoring for our freedom from infection.

– Ibram X. Kendi, 2020

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