There are some who think that myself and others are over-focused on Ferguson today; as people – white people yes, but also just *people* – our *basic humanity* requires our attention and engaged action.
I’d like to share a few thoughts that have been formed and informed by an activists panel this weekend I was fortunate to attend; the Pagans of Color panel during the Pagan Activism Conference Online event hosted by the Pantheon Foundation. As an ally, I am listening. And what I have been made to understand most recently – and not just from the voice of one Black friend, but from a whole panel of activists and educators who are People of Color, not even a week ago – was to KNOW that it is my responsibility to speak up when racist shit is happening.
The whole panel was amazing and I didn’t take notes, so everything is a bit blurred together. I will offer attribution as I am able to remember. (If I get it wrong, I hope y’all – Crystal, Xochiquetzal, Elena, Black Witch, and Khi – will correct me?)
1. Speaking up about gross injustice is not about being an ally; it’s about being a decent human being. (Thank you to Elena Rose for this thought.)
The truth is that white people are afraid to talk about racism. But it MUST be talked about. We need to say the words. Feel the feelings. Move into and through the discomfort. Again and again.
2. Boosting the signal is important – there are so many words out there that need to be to shared out. As white people who are doing to ongoing work of confronting racism (in ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world) we each have a platform. Many of us have reach. As people who know that change is needed, it is our responsibility to use that reach to create the space for that change. (Thanks to Crystal Blanton here.)
3. It’s been clearly explained to me that it’s not righteous to let it fall to People of Color to ALWAYS call out the racist shit that’s happening. Our Black sisters, brothers, family, friends, community members, and all People of Color, are EXHAUSTED from doing this work day in and day out. (Thanks to Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir for this one.)
It is possible to listen, and to make space for marginalized voices, AND to raise my own voice against injustice.
Too few people are talking about it. It needs to be talked about. Race and racism needs to be unpacked. Not just today. EVERY day.
If we’re not willing to join in and condemn the system of racist violence, we’re condoning it.
Vast amounts of gratitude to Black Witch, Khi Armand, and the panelists mentioned in the flow of this post – for being willing to teach, stand tall, be the lightening rods and keep showing up on the front lines of day to day education. I am trying to live into what I am learning from all of you.
This is no longer about one Black boy – if it ever really was just about one Black boy. It’s about Mike Brown, but it’s not about Mike Brown. (Did you know 14 teens have been killed by cops since the day that Mike Brown was gunned down?).
It’s about the systematic racism and oppression that allows for young Black men to be gunned down with impunity. It’s about the continued existence of state-endorsed lynch mobs in 2014. It’s about character assassination as judge, jury, executioner. It’s about the continued dehumanization of Black people in America today.
This is about parents needing to teach their Black children – their Black sons and daughters – to protect themselves. To be afraid. I don’t think any of us who are not Black can really understand what it’s like to have to teach your children to live in fear as a tactic for self preservation.
This is about the value of Black lives. This is about Ferguson, and it is not about Ferguson. This is about racism in America today.
I’m reminded of Palestine. This is a war against oppression.
Who is the enemy? Who do you lash out at when you have no one to hold accountable? When no one is held accountable?
As non-Black people, we are outraged. Black people – mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, grandmas, grandpas, sons, daughters – are terrified.
Terrified, and fighting for their lives.