I don’t know where to start, but here it goes… As you know, the world is battling the pandemic known as COVID-19. AND every state in the USA and several countries around the world are protesting police brutality and standing together to declare that Black Lives Matter. Wow! In my whole life, I have never seen such unity around the world. As some of you, I was in quarantine for several weeks, and in some ways, it’s been a bit of a reset… a time to rethink, listen, learn, and focus.
In Charleston, we’ve also had protests, acts of rebellion, walks against hate, one night of people getting tear gassed by the police, arrests of protesters violating curfew, defacing of Confederate and/or monuments of slave owners or supports of slavery, mask wearing optional, some social distancing, and a lot of what should we do/where do we go from here.
For the last several years, I’ve been researching, reading, listening, and learning about racism, systemic racism, and White Privilege. I’m not an expert. I’m still learning, but I just want to be a part of making the world a better place. I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania until I was 11, and I never met a person of a different race until I moved to South Carolina. And I grew up very white– meaning that my neighborhood, church, school, my mom’s work, and almost all of my friends were white. My family never talked about racism, and for a long time, I literally had no clue there was racism because I was in my little bubble. I thought that the Civil War and slavery had ended, so why is racism a problem? I don’t treat POC any differently. According to our Constitution, everyone is equal, right? Racism solved (NOPE). My history classes in school glazed over the Trail of Tears, slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement.
So what is racism? Being racist isn’t simply not saying the N word and just treating everyone kindly. We have to be more than that simplistic view of racism… we have to be actively against racism in all its forms… antiracist. But what does that mean? “Racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas. Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” –Ibram X. Kendi from How to Be an Antiracist
A dear friend allowed me to share some of her writing, and here’s a quote from her that I’ve been thinking about: “Meditate on how this saturation in whiteness has shaped your thoughts, your beliefs, and the lens through which you see the world. Let go of your belief in white innocence and your need to be *seen* as a good person; become that person instead … This is mostly an inward journey where your mind and beliefs and actions will be challenged and ideally transformed.” –Jada Elata
Basically stop trying to prove you’re a good person and just go become one. Embrace the discomfort, listen, and learn before you speak. You don’t have to do it alone. You will still make mistakes but keep learning and trying. Talking about race can be really intimidating, but not talking about it hasn’t helped at all. But what can we do? Thankfully, there are many different ways we can learn, be an ally, and show support. As a White person, I will never know nor fully understand everything that a Black person deals with every day of their lives. But there is hope, and I can be an ally and do something. You can too! And hopefully with everything that is going on in the world, together we can be a part of the change to make the world a better, more just place. Because lives truly do depend on it.
So what can we do…..This link has petitions to sign, resources for education, places to text/call, links to voter registration, and more: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
Another great way to help is to support Black-Owned businesses. Here’s some just to get started, but I’ll list some local ones first. I tried to list a variety of businesses from food to art–
Fresh Future Farm
Kasada Beauty Supply
DNA Sweetgrass Baskets
Turning Page Bookshop
Kiddie U North Charleston
SC Division of Small and Minority Business Contracting and Certification
Black-Owned Beauty Businesses