Continuing the Work of an Ally

I did a video last week and wrote a blog post with a bunch of resources. Some people went to a protest. We’re done, right? We showed up and said we cared. I mean, Black Americans can’t expect us to keep showing up, can they? We have lives, don’t we?

You know where this is going, if not, you’ve never met me and you do not understand sarcasm. Of course there is more work to do. 400 years of racism and oppression doesn’t just get solved in a day, or with one kind gesture, or a nice social media post. I know. It would be so great if that would get it done.

We’ve got real work to do, and as a white American, I know that starts with me. I finished The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin, last week. It was incredible, but I would consider it advanced reading for white Americans who don’t think they perpetuate racism or come from a generationally racist construct.

Now I am reading White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo. My mom is also reading this. In about 3 weeks we plan to have a discussion about it, and I welcome anyone else who wants to join. Please contact me here in the comments, or on social media, so we can plan a date and time that works for everyone. My facebook is friends and family (people I know IRL) but twitter is open, and my handle is @misscrf.

The reason I am inviting people to join us, is because the initial thing I have found (so far) in White Fragility, is that white people avoid discussing racism, and that needs to stop. I can admit that I have often been apprehensive about discussing race, especially in front of a Black person. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or offend anyone. I certainly didn’t want to be seen as racist, when that’s the last thing I want to be.

But that’s not good enough. Admitting that is the first step. Admitting I felt that way, is part of how I dig myself out of this, and I welcome other white people to do the same. We have to confront our own avoidance of talking about race. If you don’t know by now, Black Americans can’t avoid race being a part of their lives, and this won’t get better until white Americans stop avoiding discussions about race. The ability for white Americans to avoid discussing race, is in fact part of our white privilege. Our unwillingness to discuss race, is part of our white fragility.

Seriously, I’m only in the first chapter and I love this book.

I can absolutely recognize that I have been conditioned through my life to not view myself on the terms of my race, but to view Black people on the terms of their race. That, in itself, is conditioned racism. I think when white people hear the word racism, they think that means I just hurled expletives at a Black person. Racism is way more nuanced, and it involves marginalizing people, erasing first person, Black narratives, and applying a different set of rules to people, solely based on race.

Recently, I have had to un-friend some people on facebook. I know that sounds frivolous, but these are people I have known since high school. I know that I’m not alone in having to make these tough decisions, but I want to go over this, because I think it is important. As a white person, it’s really on me to check my inherent racism, but also to call it out in white people who are in my sphere.

I will never understand someone finding any value or worth in Trump, aside from white supremacists and Putin. Yet, there are so many who do, and so many of you will decry that they are not racist. I’ve called people out for this, and they have commented on my posts that underscore the inherent racism in supporting Trump.

What I found, in calling out these friends, is that eventually the arguments go flat. I reject their gaslighting, and they refuse to critically examine any evidence I show them of the Trump’s long-documented history of being racist. It goes well beyond the last 3 years, and has been evident for decades. Despite all that, it’s too inconvenient for people who are surrounded by an environment of Trump loving MAGA folk, to accept any criticism of someone who makes them feel like white people deserve their privilege and status.

What I realized, is that I had to make a decision. If I stayed friends with them, wouldn’t I just be saying that is was ok to agree to disagree? Wasn’t I dismissing their willingness to support a white supremacist, as acceptable? I realized I cannot do that. I will try to reach you, I will call out your rhetoric and implicit bias, but if you refuse to reason, gaslight the facts, make strawman arguments, and try to end the discussion, then I have to say goodbye. I cannot condone supporting white supremacy. Even if I wasn’t Jewish or a lesbian, I’d still be white, and I can’t care about Black Americans, while condoning the support of white supremacy. White supremacy is antithetical to the promise of this country, that we are all inherently equal. It’s not just that we are inherently equal, but that we have an inherent right to equality under the law. It is on me, as a white American, to demand that we make it a reality.

One thing I want to mention about this is the comments I see from white people, when we discuss racism. Again, we are not talking about hurling racist words, burning crosses, or being violent against people based on their race. I’m talking about the words we use in every day conversation. I recently read this list: 10 common phrases that are actually racist AF. I was surprised at how many phrases I use, that I didn’t know were rooted in racism. I see a common reaction from white people, when this type of thing is brought up. An eye roll and something to the effect of “you can’t say anything anymore!” or “everything has gotten so PC!”

Really, that’s just lazy. No one is saying you can’t say anything, but we are saying that you should care if your words perpetuate racism. It’s not just about your intent. It’s about the impact your words have. It’s common decency and respect. It’s about wanting to be inclusive enough that you aren’t just reluctantly willing to un-train yourself from the habit of saying certain things. It’s about actively wanting to, because you want a better world, not just for you, but for those you hurt. Because that is the reality. When you speak carelessly about someone on the basis of their race, you perpetuate the marginalization of all people within that race. You also bolster those who are overtly and violently racist. You help the racists feel that it’s ok or it’s not a big deal. Well, it is.

Another thing I want to take the time to do, is mention some of the action items I did last week, to step up and do more than just talk. This is not meant to be a point of bragging. Look at me! I’m an ally! Rather, it’s in part a way for me to be accountable. It’s a way to show that I’m not just sharing news and the narratives of Black Americans on social media. The other part of this, is that my whole point of posting these, is to encourage other white Americans to take tangible action. I hope by listing the things I’m doing, with links to resources, others may see that they can do some stuff too.

Last week I used resistbot to send a letter to my Senators, asking they demand a vote on H.R.35 – Emmett Till Antilynching Act .

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t get a lot of likes and retweets, because it sent that letter to my Senators.

I signed on to a petition to end qualified immunity:

Another to end no-knock warrants:

and another to repeal 50-a in NY State, which kept police misconduct hidden from the public.

I’m thrilled to say this repeal has officially passed, which is not the end of our work, but it is substantial change in the right direction.

I donated to a group fund that was split between the following organizations:

I also donated to Equal Justice Initiative, twice. It wasn’t totally intentionally, but it kind of was. I watched Just Mercy, which is free on Amazon Prime. Try getting through that without a mountain of tissues. I’ve been a huge fan of the Innocence Project for years, and always been against the death penalty, but boy does this show how incredibly damaging it is.

I also did some phone banking for the State Senate candidate I am supporting, Samra Brouk. It was only about 40 calls, but hey if 50 people volunteered, that could be 2,000 calls. If you read my posts and watch my videos, you’re going to hear more and more about volunteering for candidates. Voting rights are under attack in this country, and Black Americans have never had full access to voting. That has got to change, but it will only change if we all demand it. This is our government, but only if we do the job of making sure it runs properly.

I didn’t do a video this time, partly because I’m more comfortable writing, but partly because I don’t want to repeat what I just said above. Maybe I’ll do another video in the future, but for now, let’s make sure we all get to work and keep on working. For the next week, I plan to keep reading White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo.

I have a Monroe County library card, but as a New York state resident, I am also allowed to get a New York City Library card. Check big cities in your state, and you might be able to do the same. I use the Libby app, which has both library cards in it, to search for books I want to borrow. If one library doesn’t have the book, or there is a hold/wait, I check the other library. Once you borrow a book, you can send it to your kindle, you’ll get taken to an in-app browser page that is on the Amazon side, where you choose the device to send it to, and bam. All set. You can get the kindle app, even if you don’t have Amazon Prime, and you can put it on your phone, and tablets, even if they aren’t Amazon phones.

I love reading with the Kindle app, because I can highlight passages and words I learn, and then upload all those to goodreads, where I can have that book on my reading or read list and I can write reviews of books I have read. I’m just telling you all of this, because if you want to read White Fragility, please do, and I would love to discuss it with you.

I also want to encourage everyone to watch this video:

And then make these 3 calls. I will be making these calls as well:

Call Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer at 502-574-2003 – Demand he fire officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. * Note – I did this. You have to press 4 for the directory. Then I type his name, last then first = 34724374734. That gives his ext. 5025744545. Press # to be transferred. Then it hangs up.

Call Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron at 502-696-5300 opt 1- Demand he charge the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. *Note – I did this, and it’s interesting that they updated their phone system to put option 1 for feedback on Breonna Taylor’s murder, but they haven’t charged the officers who murdered her.

Call Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder at 502-574-7111 – Demand he complete his investigation and immediately turn it over to Breonna’s lawyers and the Attorney General. *Note – I did this, and chose opt 6 then 4 to get to the Chief’s office. The mailbox is full.

She was murdered, while sleeping, on March 13th. The investigation has not been completed, and nothing has been done. The police department released the incident report and it’s virtually blank. This is not justice.

Breonna Taylor should still be alive. There must be justice. We must demand it.

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