2020 is continuing to unravel and this latest turn of events has seemingly reached rock bottom.
The murder of George Floyd by a policeman while observed by 3 other officers and being filmed for over 8 minutes by onlookers was shocking to witness and has become a catalyst for world wide protests about black deaths in custody and race relations.
It has sparked deep conversations within our own family and my daughter has compiled some resources to help everyone understand issues and values around the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. I commend her resources to you if you are wanting to learn more, to understand how to help and to share with those who feel threatened by commentary about such topics as white privilege and racism. Here is the summary from my daughter.
As promised, here are a few of the articles/pages I’ve read the past weeks to get a deeper understanding of white privilege, racism and related topics.
What does the term white fragility mean?
White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo (very insightful article here: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/16/white-fragility-racism-interview-robin-diangelo)
“Well, when I coined that term, the fragility part was meant to capture how little it takes to upset white people racially. For a lot of white people, the mere suggestion that being white has meaning will cause great umbrage. Certainly generalizing about white people will. Right now, me saying “white people,” as if our race had meaning, and as if I could know anything about somebody just because they’re white, will cause a lot of white people to erupt in defensiveness. And I think of it as a kind of weaponized defensiveness. Weaponized tears. Weaponized hurt feelings. And in that way, I think white fragility actually functions as a kind of white racial bullying.
We white people make it so difficult for people of color to talk to us about our inevitable—but often unaware—racist patterns and assumptions that, most of the time, they don’t. People of color working and living in primarily white environments take home way more daily indignities and slights and microaggressions than they bother talking to us about because their experience consistently is that it’s not going to go well. In fact, they’re going to risk more punishment, not less. They’re going to now have to take care of the white person’s upset feelings. They’re going to be seen as a troublemaker. The white person is going to withdraw, defend, explain, insist it had to have been a misunderstanding. “
I thought this was an interesting summary of the catalyst for the protests/ BLM movement starting in the US –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4amCfVbA_c&feature=youtu.be
I’m sure you’ve seen the video of George Floyd being killed, but this was the other trigger mentioned in the above video is the Amy Cooper video where she calls the police saying a black man is threatening her when he isn’t – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfVU87y1B60
Also look into the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and in Australia, Tanya Day and David Dungay.
What is white privilege?
White privilege refers to the concept that people have basic rights and benefits simply because they are white. It doesn’t mean they haven’t suffered hardship or that they don’t have a tough life – just that their colour hasn’t made it harder. JT Flowers (a 26-year-old American rapper, student and activist living in the UK) feels some people get defensive about this term because it’s misunderstood. “You might be a white person and still be poor with a lack of access to education or face a language barrier in the workplace. It doesn’t mean you can’t be disadvantaged in other ways,” he tells Newsbeat. “It just means with respect to that one particular thing – your race and skin colour – you do have the luxury of not being able to think about it. “It means having the luxury of being able to step outside without fearing that you’re going to be discriminated against or oppressed in any way because of the colour of your skin,” he says.
Black lives matter vs All lives matter ?
This is often used as a response to the phrase “black lives matter’ – the feeling from some people that all lives should be included in the conversation around race. JT Flowers believes people who say it may not understand what the “black lives matter” phrase means. “Imagine your house is on fire and somebody comes up to you and says, ‘Hey all houses matter.’ “Your response would be along the lines of, ‘Yes but your house isn’t on fire, so if all houses matter and your house is fine, then why is it so much to ask you to care when my house is burning down?'” JT believes we live in a society where – at present, “black lives aren’t valued in the same way that white lives are.”
Understanding the impact of the phrase ‘I don’t see colour/race’
What are microaggressions?
Microaggression is classically defined as, “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” The term was coined around the late 1960s, early 1970s, after the Civil Rights era, when visible and violent expressions of racism were eclipsed by subtler incarnations. Now broadened to include all marginalized groups and their many intersections, “microaggression” has become something of a buzzword within the social justice arena.
How to be an active ally
Learnings and ideas on books to read, accounts to follow, organisations to donate to:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBEcSV6h4sS/?igshid=116ei9iq6zk5a (Australian specific)
How to keep going in Australia once the trend passes?
Here’s a list of further resources
Books to read:
- Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
- Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Dr. Brittney Cooper
- Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
- How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- Raising Our Hands by Jenna Arnold
- Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander
- The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century
by Grace Lee Boggs
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga
- When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America by Ira Katznelson
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
- Why I’m no longer talking to White people about race, Reni Eddo-Lodge
Films and TV series to watch:
- 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
- American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix
- Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 — Available to rent
- Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada) — Hulu with Cinemax or available to rent
- Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu) — Available to rent
- Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
- Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent
- I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
- If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
- Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent for free in June in the U.S.
- King In The Wilderness — HBO
- See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
- Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent
- The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent
- The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax
- When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
Podcasts to subscribe to:
- 1619 (New York Times)
- About Race
- Code Switch (NPR)
- Intersectionality Matters! hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw
- Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
- Pod For The Cause (from The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights)
- Pod Save the People (Crooked Media)
- Seeing White
Thanks to my daughter for this extensive list of links, books and podcasts – a great reference for all those endeavouring to understand the #blacklivesmatter cause. Getting terminology, concepts and words right is important as it prolongs the hurt and the injustice felt by black people around the world including Australia. Words matter; actions matters; we need leadership on this matter in our political leaders. I have felt challenged and uncomfortable a number of times over the past weeks, as I have realised what I didn’t understand, but I have learned that the biggest mistake when feeling challenged is to stop reading and learning on this topic. So I’m going to keep reading, learning, donating and taking tangible action. I also commend to you and all the politicians in Australia the Uluru Statement from the Heart (2017)