The day that your lives began to be disrupted is the day that you actually started to notice me. See, here’s the thing. As long as there were peaceful protests….you were okay with that. As long as the protests remained in the inner cities…. You didn’t bat an eyelash. Now the protests are coming to your small suburban town and black and brown people are raising their voices, you seemingly are uncomfortable in your own skin.
Since we have your attention, I hope you will take a moment and listen to this black mom of a 6-year- old whom I recently had to explain why black and brown men like her father, my husband was brutally being murdered in the street. I had to explain to my sweet little girl, why last week we couldn’t stay at the pool longer because their was curfew in place. I had to explain to her why every time she comes by my bedroom, Mommy is wiping tears from her face and trying to change the channel so she wouldn’t see buildings on fire and angry black and brown people putting their bodies and life on the line. Would you like to know why I am angry ? I’ll tell you why.
Today we celebrate Juneteenth, a day that you probably just heard of because the President pushed his Maga rally back one day. But truth be told, we have been celebrating this day of remembrance and freedom of when African slaves were finally emancipated two-years after the Emancipation Proclaimation of 1863. This is most black Americans 4th of July! This is the very reason why black people are so fed up. Our history is not the History celebrated by America. We have long been subjecated to 401 years of systemic racism that has tried to gut the core of African Americans.
So back to my point. Black people have a right to be angry and frustrated. It’s east for some white people think racism is a thing of the past, but research has shown that blacks disproportionately live in poverty. In fact, on average they earn 20-35% less than whites, our youth do not not receive equal education , are more likely to occupy dangerous jobs, and live in polluted, run-down neighborhoods. They have worse health outcomes, higher incidence of disease, and they die younger. African Americans know they live in a racist system, but oftentimes lack the power to change it on their own. But this is a new day!
Systemic racism is not a thing of the past. Just listen to the cries of our African American ancestor since the first ship arrived 401 years ago. Listen to the cries of black mothers burying their black sons at the hands of a system that does not give them a chance to become what they could be.
Angry…Yes! Hurting…Yes! So no how do we fix it.
First there needs to be widespread Reform (Policing, Education, Health care, Housing, Economic development) It’s not enough to simply retire Aunt Jemima, send a notice to your black employees, or remove Gone with the wind. African Americans need sweeping legislative reform in every area.
Reparations ( what I like to call leveling)- The true 40 Acres and a Mule. This is not only necessary, but needed to give black people the appropriate start and a chance to compete.
What can you do?
First, stop asking your black friends for advice. We are simply tired of being the black encyclopedia for you. If you want to help, Educate yourself. For instance, if you had a child who had special needs, you would move heaven and hell to get that child what they need. Why? because you value the life of your child and you should. Well, do the same here. Value the lives of the black bodies that are being murdered in the streets, your friends who are hurting. Do the righteous thing and Download some podcasts, check with your google friend. There are plenty of resources. Now do the work.
Second, come to grips with the reality of your whiteness. It is difficult when you finally realize that your privilege and your whiteness has given you the ability to walk through life basically unscathed. Being forced to be at home during the pandemic has caused most white people to have a reckoning of the realities of the lives of people who do not look like them. Utilize this time to really dig deep and look at yourself and how you can begin to engage with the people around you and make the world a better place.
Third, Be Intentional about Raising Anti- Racist Children -I am a firm believer that raising anti-racist children begins early. When a family takes steps to ensure that their child interacts with people who do not look like them they begin the stages of raising an anti-racist child. When was the last time that you took your child to an African American birthday party? When was the last time you bought your child a book, a doll or a toy of a different ethnic group?