EDITED: I will continue to add more great links that I’ve seen since writing this post…
I started Year of Months as a way to prevent the days from slipping into weeks…slipping into months…slipping into years. As a way to be mindful, and stay present. In its first iteration, I tackled a personal challenge every month with an eye towards cementing new habits while also feeling accomplished in the time that had passed. In its current iteration, I strive to notice the everyday things that make me happy, that bring me delight. For the most part, I keep it light. To counterbalance the struggles and conflicts of life, I focus my intent on the good things. The joie de vivre. But, there are just some things in life from which the mind should never become distracted.
Because I don’t “get into it” very often here, I never posted an essay I wrote a while back about the despair I was feeling about racially-motivated police violence. At the time, an inordinate number of children had become targets, and it weighed mightily on my heart. How could it not? It all does. But, children…not presumed innocent. Of course, my mind never lets go of the fact that children are impacted by every single one of these situations where fear takes lives, literally and figuratively. So, today, I can’t write this post then put it away. I have to speak out.
It probably makes you uncomfortable to talk about this. I might’ve already lost some folks. But my mind can’t be distracted by pretty things today. So, let’s just go ahead and get really frank instead. This injustice is not rooted in hate, it’s rooted in fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what we think we know. Fear of what might become. Fear that the privileged might have to work harder. Fear that we are losing our grip. Fear that if we let one iota of power slip that we will instantly be relegated to the status we are creating for others deemed lesser by our fears.
How do we calm these fears? How do we break this cycle? I want to have hope, but lately, I’m not certain there’s anything we can do. What we cannot do, however, is let our despair harden anything other than our resolve to keep trying. I don’t need to define this struggle for those who struggle most, but I have been desperately searching for ways to help.
What can I, a privileged white upper-middle-class woman, do to break the chain? I’m going to share a few things I landed on today. They are only a start – they are likely flawed – I will surely stumble awkwardly through this process before I land on something that truly makes a difference. When you see me making a fool out of myself, I encourage you to engage me and educate me and join me in this imperfect endeavor. I know it’s not enough for my intentions to be pure. But, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s death this past week reminded me of human’s ability to triumph, if only we try. Though he is now gone, his wisdom sticks with me: There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
As a start, I have a very simple question for you. When your days… weeks… months… years… life is measured for the sum of its parts, what legacy will you leave behind?
Seek Out Other Points of View:
Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering
“To watch another human being shot to death is grotesque. It is horrifying, and even though I feel so resigned, so hopeless, so out of words in the face of such brutal injustice, I take some small comfort in still being able to be horrified and brought to tears.”
A Letter to My Son If Police Actions Leave You Fatherless
“I’ve been so accustomed to getting over Black death that I’d ignored the reality of Black survival. Of what it was like to bury a parent as the price paid for inequality. The pain of what it’s like to have to wake up the next day knowing that injustice took mom or dad away.”
What White America Fails to See
“We feel powerless to make our black lives matter. We feel powerless to make you believe that our black lives should matter. We feel powerless to keep you from killing black people in front of their loved ones. We feel powerless to keep you from shooting hate inside our muscles with well-choreographed white rage.”
Advice for White People in the Wake of the Police Murder of a Black Person
“In the wake of police executions, you are bound to hear a few things that distract from the real issues. One of those storylines is that “he was no angel,” wherein the media will outline the various ways in which the victim behaved inappropriately in the past. None of this matters, and it certainly does not change the fact that the police killed the person outside of any legal process.”
I’m a Black Ex-Cop, and This Is the Real Truth about Race and Policing
“On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with.”
The Day I Discovered I Was a Racist
“If I can be a racist, coming out of my childhood, raised as I was raised, believing as my mother believed – well damn, people. It means these prejudices inhabit all of us.”
Join Campaign Zero
Campaign Zero seeks to end police violence in America with a comprehensive package of urgent policy solutions informed by data, research, and human rights principles that can change the way police serve our communities. There is a lot of valuable information on this site, including links to #wetheprotestors and #staywoke for more opportunities to be on the front lines of creating solutions.
Gun violence is the second leading cause of death for American youth and the leading cause of death for black youth. This year, a unique yearbook is released for all the students who lost their lives to gun-related violence. The book itself is an official petition to strengthen U.S. gun laws, ready to be signed by you.
The Movement for Black Lives
Guided by love, we continue to stand together for justice, human dignity and our shared goal of ending all forms of state violence against Black people. We organize, occupy, demonstrate, march and chant for a new future: A future we can be proud of.
Now Reading: Between the World and Me – Ta Nehisi Coates
“One of the great virtues of both books is that they are not addressed to white people. The usual hedging and filtering and softening and overall distortion that seems to happen automatically — even unconsciously — when black people attempt to speak about race to white people in public is absent.” – Michelle Alexander, NYTimes
Now Listening: Code Switch: Race and Identity Remixed, NPR