5 Things To Ask Black People To Do Instead of Protest: A Suggestion
Charlottesville. Ferguson. Baltimore. Cleveland. St. Louis. Chicago. New York. America is on fire. We're all watching it burn. Some of us have been watching with a front row seat for our entire lives. Some of you are new to the show. Welcome. You're ignited. You're pissed. You're fed up. You're inspired to get out there and take to the streets. We must stop this hateful regime. (even though Black women told you this would happen....but...anyway). Well, I wish you the best in the fight but I'll be sitting this one out. Why? Well, I am too busy making less money than all of my white peers: male and female. I am consumed with dodging interactions with police officers that can leave me unlawfully arrested or...you know, dead. I am drowning in social media posts telling me to "stop being so sensitive---everything isn't about race". I am inundated with visions of non-Black people loving and benefitting from Black culture while remaining completely silent when our lives are at stake. I am drained from having to coach well-to-do white people on what they can do to topple a system that they regularly benefit from. I am swallowing blood from constantly biting my tongue when I am disrespected, ignored or offended by people who should know better. My feet are still aching from marching for Trayvon, Big Mike, Little Tamir, Sandra, Rekia, Eric, Freddie. My face is still tear-stained from Jordan, Philando and Terence.
In short, I cannot protest against racism and the repugnant people it produces because I am too busy being Black every single damn day. So maybe, just maybe, instead of asking oppressed people to show up for a country that doesn't care about our blood spilling the streets because the vessels have too much melanin, you can ask us to:
Stay at home.
Yep, this is what we all need to be doing. Resting. Unplugging. Not staring down people who are the immediate descendants of folk who hung our ancestors and documented it. Not being called nigger in the streets or being beaten by mobs of the "alt-right". We need to be at home, safe and surrounded by people who love, understand and see us for a change. We need a break. It's been 400+ years for us. I think you can handle it from here.
Send you our rates for creating racial and political work---or, more simply, for work.
One of the ways to interrupt the system of racism is to even the playing field---or attempt to---in professional settings. If you're writing a movie about, say, the riots in Detroit---hiring a Black writer, script consultant, etc...is one way to show the community you actually care about them and don't just plan to profit from their pain. If you want to publish searing insight on institutionalized racism---how about paying a Black writer for his/her take---since, by in large, we suffer the most from it. Instead of compiling a list of all the great tweets by the Black people you follow into a post written by a cis white writer---introduce a new Black talent to your network. Know a great position at your company that could probably use a bit of color? Ask the dope Black person you know to send you their resume. Don't worry---they're still going to make less than you anyway, so what's the harm in spreading the love?
Be 100% Real With You About Your Racism
Didn't see that one coming, huh? You may have experience with non-White people. You may have close friends who are Black. Hell, you may even be laying down next to someone who is Black every night. And chances are---you've still been racially insensitive (at best) or overtly racist (at worst) in their presence. Maybe they let it slide, deciding to put your feelings over their own or because they didn't have the energy to explain that you, sweet, "I volunteered for Obama and LIVE for Beyonce", you, can still be racist. You may not have meant it or known it---but it's happened. And even as you position yourself as an ally in this fight---the real work starts in your everyday life. With those who you may feel should "know your heart". It's hearing their firsthand experiences with racism that don't include torches and ill-fitting khakis. It's owning that you have been so conditioned to ignore the feelings of people who don't look/love/pray like you, that you've hurt them in the process.
Not Feel Obligated To Hold Your Hand Through This
For far too long Black people, women especially, have been showing up to help you understand where things are going wrong (for free!). We have told you what books to read. We've made documentaries and TV shows. We've rapped about it. Created slogans. We've done everything in our power to make you see just how hard it is to be in our shoes. The buck stops here. Google is your friend. Listen when we talk. Pay attention when we're angry---without taking it personal and then writing it off as misplaced because you "didn't own slaves" or "didn't vote for Trump". Recognize when we're hurting---not only when videos of murdered Black bodies are posted on your timeline but on a smaller scale like when groups of us are denied tables at restaurants or kicked off of trains for "being too loud". Or when the Black kid in your classroom is said to have behavioral issues but the other kids are just "being children". Or when your uncle makes the off-color joke at Thanksgiving that you know is wrong. These are all your moments to teach others. To be the Maxine Waters of your life. Because let's face it: Auntie Maxine is a hero but she shouldn't be 79 years old fighting the same fights she was fighting 30 years ago.
Handle Racists However The Hell We Want
Respectability is totally off the table the moment racism is present. Don't tell us not to fight fire with fire. Don't tell us not to punch Nazis in the face. Don't tell us to hug it out with Chad Crow and his cohorts. Don't tell us not to scream, cry, swear or do whatever the hell we feel down in our spirits when statues of slave owners are deemed more important than our living, breathing, beautiful Black bodies. If we decide to show up to these protests---we get to be 100% ourselves. Not the selves that make you comfortable. Not the selves we have to be at work or at our cycle classes. Not the selves we are told we have to be in order to be safe in the country we built with our spirits. No. We are coming through like Khaleesi and her dragons...burning the hate to the ground. And if that makes you uncomfortable...than maybe you need to be on the other side.
* in the spirit of tearing down monuments of hate mongers---our sister Takiyah Thompson was arrested for taking down a Confederate statue---you can call the DA and demand that they drop charges against her here: 919-808-3010. Her bail is set for 10k.*
* DeAndre Harris is the young man in the circulating photo/video being beaten by a group of white supremacists in Charlottesville. He sustained staples in his head, a chipped tooth and a broken wrist. You can donate to his medical expenses here.*
* Heather Heyer was 32 years old at the time of her death. She was killed when a white supremacist by the name of James Alex Fields, Jr. plowed into anti-hate protestors in Charlottesville. Hear her mother speak here.*