We Need To Do Better
Posted on May 27 2020
WE NEED TO DO BETTER by Chess Needham
WE NEED TO DO BETTER. WHITE PEOPLE NEED TO DO BETTER. WE NEED TO DO BETTER.
The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, and George Floyd are on the lips of many today, added to a list of countless people of color who have been murdered senselessly by hands driven by racism, white supremacy, and male fragility. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin -- how many murdered black people can you name off the top of your head? We need to do better.
What can we do? On the same day we heard about George Floyd, many saw a video of Amy Cooper frantically calling 911 to scream about “an AFRICAN-AMERICAN MAN” threatening her. We need to recognize this type of racism as violence. She knew that calling the police was a threat. Calling the police on a black man can get him killed. What can we do? Don’t call the police. Don’t call the police if a black man asks you to follow the rules. Don’t call the police when your neighbors are having a party too loud. Don’t call the police when you see someone distributing marijuana on your street. Don’t call the police. The police are a violent, racist institution that was originally designed as slave patrols. The police do not protect and serve - most of their job is spent upholding racist and unjust laws and criminalizing people of color for petty offenses. Don’t call the police.
What can we do? Amy Cooper claimed she was being threatened. She was being asked to leash her dog - a rule that applies to all. Stop claiming black people are being threatening when they’re just talking. Stop labeling black people as aggressive when they assert themselves. Stop labeling black people as suspicious when they’re walking or running through your neighborhood. The police do not help. The police enforce a punitive system that does not aim to restore or uplift communities, it aims to break and stifle them.
What can we do? When I was eleven years old I was playing in a neighbor’s yard and pointed a cap gun at a cop on my block. He pointed a finger gun back at me. If I had been black, I could have been shot. Since I am white, I didn’t even know that being killed was a possibility until I was much older. Recognize white supremacy, how it threads through our society daily, and how you benefit from it. Ash + I are both white people. And while we *technically* are marginalized - we’re both queer, and I’m trans and Jewish as well - we present as white. We could pass as a white, cis-hetero couple. We are privileged for many reasons, but existing in our whiteness itself is a privilege. White supremacy is not just swastika armbands or KKK hoods - white supremacy is also turning on the TV and knowing you’ll see people who look like you. White supremacy is the fact that black children are more likely to be tried as adults. White supremacy is the set of advantages we get by simply being born white - being able to buy bandaids that are the color of our skin; being taught a history in school that represents American heritage as largely white; using slang in any way that we want without being worried that people will assume we’re illiterate, uneducated, or from a poor family; succeeding and making it to the top of a job, to a top college, and so on without someone calling it unfair or attributing it to our race or tokenization.
What can we do? Don’t ask people of color to do the research for you. Don’t put the burden on them - make it yours. How can you use your power and privilege to combat this? Educate yourself; buy from black owned businesses; donate your money to bail funds, local mutual aid organizations, and so on. We’ve listed some resources for your own learning - it’s in no way comprehensive but at least a starting point.
Articles/Videos as an easy starting off point:
Short videos that describe how racism shows up in our everyday lives https://www.raceforward.org/videos/systemic-racism
Read more about White Supremacy Culture
Read about ten ways white supremacy shows up in our everyday lives
Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack:
United Universalist’s guide to alternatives to calling the police:
The Abolitionist Toolkit:
Alternatives to calling the police:
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? By Beverly Daniel Tatum
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Organizations to follow:
COVID-19 Mutual Aid Resources list via @covid19mutualaid
Funds to donate to:
George Floyd Memorial Fund
I Run With Maud
Minnesota Freedom Fund
Louisville Community Bail Fund
Black Visions Collective
National Bail Out
Donate to Transgender Law Center in memory of Tony McDade
Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
North Star Health Collective
Richmond For All