We have a racism problem. We always have, and every now and then it reaches a boiling point. People start to notice. But for people of color, we always notice. It’s just a part of life, the same way hyper-vigilance is just a part of life for women. Most of the time, if it’s not you, you don’t know.
It really should go without saying, but here we are: BLACK LIVES MATTER. Black and brown bodies matter, and deserve the autonomy and respect given to bodies which are not black and brown.
White/white-passing brothers and sisters: It is not enough to be “not racist”. You have a responsibility in all of this, and it’s a big responsibility. You need to call out, interrupt, shut down racism when you see and hear it. ESPECIALLY when there’s no people of color around. You need to do the uncomfortable, awkward, and inconvenient thing, which is putting yourself out there; be willing to stand up, even if you’re standing alone. It doesn’t matter if it’s your friends, co-workers, whatever. Anti-racism doesn’t work without white folks checking themselves and others.
Black/brown/people of color: We need to support each other. Racism takes different forms but white supremacy is baked into our culture, into our society, and we are all affected. We need to have each other’s back when it rears its head. We need to have enough respect for ourselves that we can see it, name it, and confront it. Even when it’s “just a joke”. Even when the perpetrators are our “friends”. Even when it would be easier not to. At the same time, let us take refuge in each other. This is exhausting, and it’s such a big part of life that sometimes we stop noticing. But it takes a toll. And it is not the responsibility of marginalized individuals to educate the dominant group about our experience. Breathe, but stay awake.
To everyone: Each of us has a different lived experience. It is the job of each of us to see where our privilege is, recognize it, and use it to uplift our brothers and sisters—all races, genders, religions, sexual orientations—everyone. Listen to people when they share their pain. Think before you speak. If you’re called out, seek the truth in the other person’s accusation before mounting a defence. Yes, even if they’re angry. Even if it’s not “nice”. IF YOU'RE NOT BLACK, NO NOT SAY THE N-WORD. EVER.
Recognize that we are all different, and all infinitely valuable. Find space to be vulnerable. Rest, recharge, and come back ready to stand up for justice and equality for all.