What I say to my white friends during a pandemic
June 2, 2020 10:34pm
This is an open letter to my white friends. White friends or friends that are not white but that can/do read as white that have been calling, texting and emailing me in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, the protests and the call to illuminate (to white folks) the police brutality that has always been prevalent in the black community. Many of you want to hug me. Don’t. That would be more for you than for me. I live in this world, you are just waking up to it. I realize that you are shocked. You are in awe. You are realizing that every time a black person spoke of racism —- we weren’t lying; it wasn’t all in our heads; we weren’t overreacting. "What can do I?!" you ask. First, understand that, at best, you can be an anti-racist, racist. At best. Because your skin is white and you live in America you have many more privileges than I do that you are completely oblivious to. Again, that's not a lie, in my head or me overreacting --- that is a fact. Many of you are wondering, "How can I help?!" . So here it is. Stand up for me when I’m not there. In those places where I’m not present and you hear and/or are in the presence of a racist comment, joke or attitude: at your job, in your house of worship, in your home with your family. You wanna do something? Do that. This shit ain’t gonna be easy. The conversations that you’ll have in your all white spaces. Yes, all white. Think about it. Many of you have all white spaces. Just like I have some all black spaces. Don't think this is gonna be over in a week, a month, a year. This shit has been going on for over 400 YEARS….to correct it is gonna take a minute. When I see the images of the white police officers hugging protesters and saying that they stand with them, I am more than a bit skeptical. Do they mean it? Are they genuine? Or is it just another control tactic? Or are they just caught up in the moment? It feels good to be seen as one of the “good ones”, right? Are they going to take that moment and extend it to the next week, month, year? Will they still feel the same in November? WHEN. IT. WILL. COUNT?! Those law enforcement officers gave very pretty speeches and talked a lot. A LOT. I didn’t see any footage of them LISTENING. I didn’t see them say, “I’m going to shut-up now. I’m just going to listen. I’m going to take it, whatever it is, so that I can learn”. I didn’t see that. Does that mean I want you, white friends, to come to me and say, “teach me”. Hell no. I’m a bit raw right now. I’ve spent a lifetime being indoctrinated about your culture in school, church, media, government, legislation…the point is, I know all about YOU. You don’t know ANYTHING about me. Not really. So, go read a book. Read LOTS of books. Google, watch videos do whatever you think you need to do to learn at least a fraction of the amount of what I know about you and your culture. Then, after you’ve done your homework, your research and an iota of your due diligence then maybe we can talk. Sort through your feelings of knee-jerk guilt because I ain’t gonna lie, I need time to sort through my anger….AGAIN. And for those of you shaking your heads or tisk-tisking the images of rioting that you are being shown on the nightly news, let’s not lose sight of the real narrative: a black man was executed, murdered by the police AGAIN; in broad daylight AGAIN; it was taped for all to see AGAIN. Different cities, states, police departments so can we please put away the “bad apple” defense? That’s bullshit and you know it. So, white friends, know that there is a long road ahead for you. It’s going to be painful. It’s going to be tough. But if you say you want change you have to keep going. And you will get angry, you will get tired, you will get fatigued to that all I can say is:
Welcome to my world.