Black Lives Matter

art by Daria Rosen

My head space is very emotional being in the epicenter in Washington, DC and witnessing everything. Black people deserve love and respect. The protests aren't new, it's just that everything has been recorded on iphones in the last 5 years so now everyone is forced to see what Black people have always known has been happening. Racial violence is not political, it's a public health problem. The system has always been broken with little to no change. How many marches have their been since MLK's March on Washington? I've spent the last two weeks sad and heartbroken over race relations in our country. This blog has always had posts on finding a deeper meaning in life so I wanted to share some resources about this human issue and how you can be an ally and advocate to the Black community. 

If you don't think white people have privilege in this country, think about how most people live in segregated neighborhoods and go to segregated churches. How executive boards of companies have little diversity. It's actually white women that benefit most from affirmative action in the work force. People are comfortable talking about the wage gap between men and women but not between white and Black people. Is your inner friend circle diverse? Did the cafeteria in your school segregate by race? How many Black people do you see in your group fitness classes? You've probably never thought about it but I immediately notice. I remember buying pantyhose in middle school and the "nude" color not matching my skin color. I remember in elementary school a kid made a science project for Band-aids that came in various shades of brown. Until this day, they still only come in "nude" (not my nude color) but Band-aid just released a statement saying they will produce a line of varying shades of brown. So please support the product when it comes out as I've been wearing band-aids that don't match my skin color my whole life.

Up until this year Spanx only came in 3 colors - white, nude and black. I think when Kim Kardashian released her Skims shapewear line last year in 14 shades of brown, pressure was put on other makers of shapewear to diversify. When Rihanna came out with her beauty line Fenty, Black women were ecstatic because it has so many skin tones available for foundation and concealer as that's not so easy to find. Think about it, the beauty industry is geared towards white women. Go to your local CVS or grocery store and see a whole aisle of white hair products and a small separate section for Black hair products.  

Last week wasn't Black spirit week, it was an accumulation of everything that Black people have been seeing in their lives but white people finally just saw and are forced to acknowledge. If you are colorblind, then how can you see racism?  No one claims to be racist but racism still exists. For me I see it in microagressions. For instance, my Black male friend went to a black tie event and in the bathroom was told by an old white man "you guys are doing a great job" because he thought my friend was the help. Before uber, I'd hear countless stories from Black men of how hard it was to catch a cab. Or my Black manager was voicing her opinion in a meeting and was called 'angry'. See white men can be assertive at work, but when a Black woman is so she is called angry for raising her voice because that is based on a negative stereotype. This bias often prevents Black people moving into leadership roles in the work place. Many companies have been sharing lately what percentage of their leadership is Black, you can see it on this page.

I've learned a lot from Instagram in the last few weeks from all the content creators I followed. I also noticed those who stayed silence. I noticed those who marched, or donated money to BLM charities, or who shared BLM content. I was also disappointed to hear that those vocal white people received private DMs from other white people not supporting what they were doing. The Ellen Show has been posting a lot of posts supporting BLM, but read the comments and you see how America really feels about it. I discovered new amazing Black travel creators to follow to diversify my feed. I heard them speak about difficulties they experienced traveling abroad while Black. Discrimination in restaurants, high end hotels and sitting in the front of the plane. How they are mistaken for prostitutes in Europe. I heard about how they aren't paid the same as their white peers. On the June 9th episode of the  Bachelor Nation podcast Rachel and Becca have an emotional conversation about race on the Bachelor. 

Governor Cuomo of New York made Juneteenth a holiday for state employees. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery. Even though technically slavery ended two years prior with President Lincoln's  Emancipation Proclamation, it wasn't enforced until two years later when the slaves were freed. Juneteenth is celebrated as a time of education and learning. There are Juneteenth celebrations and parades across the US on June 19th. Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's said they are changing their image  after admitting its based on a racist Stereotype. 

DC had two straight weeks of demonstrations! There were demonstrations all across Europe as well! Do you want to know what all the demonstrations have accomplished? Minneapolis banned the use of choke holds. Dallas adopted a "duty to intervene" rule that requires officers to stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force. Monuments celebrating confederates were removed in Virginia, Alabama, and DC. DC renamed the street in front of the White House "Black Lives Matter" and painted the yellow words on the street.  DC passed a reform bill that bans the police from using chemical irritants or rubber bullets. Did you know the first two days of the demonstrations in DC, the police used tear gas, rubber bullets and had a dozen low flying black hawks trying to scare the peaceful protesters! I saw all of this first hand, and I wasn't anywhere near the White House. It was scary, like I was in a war zone! 

If you would like to be a strong white ally to the Black community, then educate yourself. Understand the history of whiteness and racism. Understand the connection between race and economics. Notice how racism is denied and minimized. Speak up against racism in the workplace and support your Black colleagues. Understand that you don't get to determine what is racist. Here are some anti-racist resources for you. First watch this short clip from Michael Che.

I've watched all of these in the last couple weeks and highly recommend. When we can go back to the movies, go see movies with Black people in it to support the industry with your dollars. 
13th- Released in 2016 and was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary and won the Emmy for the same category. It has interviews with Cory Booker, Angela David, and more. They explain that the largest riots in this country from the 1960s to now are all about police brutality. To understand why this upset Black people, it shows you the history of police violence against Black people through the whole century. And, that there has never been a period where the law wasn't allowed to terrorize black people. It's key for you to understand this historical context. Also discussed is the mass incarceration of Black people and each President's role in locking up Black people.

Netflix has a documentary called Explained and on season 1 is an episode called The Racial Wealth Gap which is very informative. And why I would encourage you to support Black businesses. 

Just Mercy - Right now airing for free on Youtube. The true story of a lawyer who defends a wrongfully accused man on death row. Starring  Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. The book is currently the #10 book on the New York Times best seller list.

When They See Us - A series about 5 middle school Black boys who were falsely convicted for a crime in 1989 (The Central Park Five) because of forced confessions which still happen today. 

Oprah does an interview with the now exonerated men which I recommend watching afterward the series. On netflix it's called "Oprah Winfrey Presents: When they see us now."

Who Killed Malcolm X - Such an incredible documentary for an important part of history. You learn about racism during that time in the United States. Malcolm X was assassinated because he was disrupting the status quo. The research put into this documentary is overwhelmingly exceptional! 

Time: The Kalief Browder Story - This docu-series was so hard to watch. Kalief was arrested for a crime he didn't commit at the age of 16 and couldn't make bail. He was held at Rikers Island for 3 years while he awaited trial because he refused a plea deal. Plea deals are used with many Black people who never go to trial. During this time he was subjected to beatings from both inmates and prison guards. Then spent 2 years in solidarity confinement. When he got out of prison, he was still imprisoned in his mind. NY has vowed to close Rikers Island in five years and Obama banned solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prison. DC doesn't have bail, it was abolished many years ago because it unfairly affects low income people. 

Dateline just aired an episode of three black men who were wrongfully accused of murder and finally got out after 20 years. 

Hello, Privilege. It's me, Chelsea. Chelsea Handler made this light documentary last year that scratches the surface with a bunch of interviews. Favorite quotes from the film: "White privilege is a white person's problem, it's a not a Black person's problem but has consequences for Black people. You can't solve a problem that you won't name or recognize is real since white people don't want to talk about it." "It can't just be Black people advocating for Black people." "We need everyone's voice talking in their own communities. We need people willing to do anti-racist work".

These are the top 5 books on the New York Times best seller list right now!  The DC library has made available unlimited ebook copies of these books, which is unprecedented! I read two of these books so far and downloaded the others to read next. Amazon is sold out of many of these but I encourage you to purchase them from a Black bookstore. Support Black authors by buying their work. 

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Written by a white author who leads anti-racist workshops in corporate offices. She has a unique view point from her attendees who are reluctant to attend her mandatory workshops. The book is discussed on The Stacks podcast which I highly recommend listening to.

Favorite quotes from the book are "The decisions made at those tables affect the lives of those not at the tables."
"didn’t the lack of diversity indicate a problem or at least suggest that some perspectives were missing?"
"white fragility is triggered by discomfort and anxiety, it is born of superiority and entitlement."
"I came to see that the way we are taught to define racism makes it virtually impossible for white people to understand it."
"Is it possible that because I am white, there are some racial dynamics that I can’t see?"
"When I say that only whites can be racist, I mean that in the United States, only whites have the collective social and institutional power and privilege over people of color. People of color do not have this power and privilege over white people."
"Individual whites may be “against” racism, but they still benefit from a system that privileges whites as a group"
"examine whiteness is to focus on how racism elevates white people."
"White people find it very difficult to think about whiteness as a specific state of being that could have an impact on one’s life and perceptions."
"Whites control all major institutions of society and set the policies and practices that others must live by."
"though virtually no one claims to be racist anymore, racism still exists."
"Rationalizing that our workplaces are virtually all white because people of color just don’t apply"
"where someone tells a racist joke but we keep silent because we don’t want to be accused of being too politically correct and be told to lighten up."
"The very real consequences of breaking white solidarity play a fundamental role in maintaining white supremacy."
"But my silence is not benign because it protects and maintains the racial hierarchy and my place within"
"If there are people of color around us, we are seldom encouraged to build cross-racial friendships."
"could live my entire life without a friend or loved one of color and not see that as a diminishment of my life."
"Most whites who recall having a friend of color in childhood rarely keep these friendships into adulthood."
"the sad fact is many whites have no cross-racial friendships at all."
"I understand that many parents tell their children to not be racist, but the practice of our lives is more powerful than the words we say, and living a segregated life is a powerful message of practice."
"white participants continue to insist that not talking about difference is necessary for unity."

Ijeoma was born to a white American mother and a Nigerian father. She is the author of two books.

How to Be an Antiracist  by Ibram X. Kendi  
Professor Kendi is the founding Director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University in Washington, DC and author of five books. He partnered with the COVID tracking project to build a COVID racial tracker. He was recently on Brene Brown's podcast.

Written by an East African, Arab, British, Black, Muslim woman who grew up in the United Kingdom and now lives in Doha. The book started as a 28 day Instagram challenge  #meandwhitesupremacy  She offers a master class on how to be an ally to Black people in the workplace. She also has a podcast.
This book is easy to read and has thought exercises for you to do at the end of each chapter.  I would recommend starting with this book. 

The author is a civil rights lawyer and university professor. 

Black owned businesses to support:

While not Black owned, the owners of Ben & Jerry had the balls to put in their official corporate statement on their website "we must dismantle white supremacy" and list the specific actions they are taking. The owners got arrested during recent demonstrations. They hire people without background checks which helps the single mom going back into the workforce or someone who got out of prison. Their ice cream is expensive because they pay $15 an hour. I wrote a post on my favorite low calorie Ben & Jerry's flavors that I'm now stocking up on.

Black charities to donate to:

If you're scared to march because of covid, there are some other free things you can do to support BLM. Stream a video on Youtube that will make donations to BLM for every person who does so.

Sign Petitions:

All these things, watching documentaries, signing petitions, reading books by Black authors, supporting Black businesses and watching Black films are so little but so actionable. Share BLM posts on instagram within your circle.  It matters immensely so be more intentional with your impact. Black people can't take a break from racism so the work needs to be done to learn how to be actively anti-racist and learn about our history as it pertains to race. I hope we can all have open and honest conversations with each other so we can learn and better ourselves.

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