I am currently in a clinic that does research and works on policy initiatives regarding anti-civil rights violence in the U.S. Many people in the clinic, including myself, are white. And almost everyone in the class is a woman. I spend 20 hours a week digging deep into rural southern racial violence, so anti-racist work, and whiteness, and femininity has been on my mind a lot lately.
But I waffled a lot about if I was going to write anything about racism and white surpemacy over the past couple days, because it has been weighing heavily on my mind, but I also wanted to take space to just listen. To hear some things and look for the best way to proceed.
And then Rachel Dolezal.
And then Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
And I still didn't know what to say. But then I read that the alleged shooter at Emanuel allegedly said he he did because because African Americans "rape our women." The victim of the lynching I am researching was killed because he a white woman in the town was assaulted. There was no reason to think he assaulted her, and yet a mob of hundreds lynched him. 70+ years later and nine black community members are killed in a church. We can't pretend that lynching is history, because its progeny lives on in Charleston, in Mckinney, in Sanford, in Phoenix, in Baltimore, in Boston.
So the absolute bare fucking minimum I can do is push back against racism perpetuated in my name.
I am a white woman. Racist violence does not protect me, or make me feel safer. Racism is engrained in every part of our society, and I have benefitted from it, no matter how much easier it would be to deny that. But I know that my life and my family's life would have been and would be better if we lived in a racially just world. Altruistic we-all-bleed-red is bullshit, and not nearly enough. Color blindness pretends we can move past something we never gave up. White women have a personal stake in ending
So here's me committing to having the hard conversations with other white people, and listening and to moving forward in figuring out the best way to put anti-racist practices into practice.
In this minute, that means listening to the voices of people of color who are calling for action and change. So here are some things I think you should read, some place I have given to this week, and some resources on white anti-racist work.
- Derrick Watson Brown, "We Can't Have Nothing."
- Riley Wilson, "I’m Not A South Carolinian; I’m the Rebirth of the Black Radical."
- Michael Brown Sr.'s Open Letter for Fathers Day.
- Latoya Peterson, "The 9 heartbreaks of the Charleston shooting."
- Karen Attiah, "Charleston, Dylann Roof and the racism of millennials."
- Rebecca Carroll, "The Charleston shooter killed mostly black women. This wasn't about 'rape'"
- We should all read everything on this #CharlestonSyllabus.
In this minute, it means making donations to organizations led by people of color. Here are the places I have chosen to donate this week, and I hope you can make a donation, too.
And here are some resources for white anti-racist activists:
Have you been having difficult conversations about racism this week? Will you commit to speaking up against racism?