We need to end Anti-Black racism, for real.
Summer of 2020, in cities around the world, people marched for #BlackLivesMatter. For the first time in the history of the United States, we witnessed a multicultural tapestry of people marching to support the end of oppression against Black people. It appeared that people were being true to “what they said on paper.” Folks changed their social media handles, companies made Black Lives Matter commitment statements, people boldly confronted their family members racist ideologies, millions of dollars poured into the Movement for Black Lives and national Black organizations. Articles and webinars about ending Anti-Black racism became the focus of waking up industries. However, the once-loud solidarity chants from the summer have become silent echos that collude with the status quo.
In the words of Dr. King, we entered into another cycle of people not “being true to what you said on paper.”
Once again, people became amped with outrage at the visual of another Black body murdered yet failed to continue to deliver on individual and systemic change that actually improved the lives of Black people. Yes, we elected more Black people to office, named a few Black “firsts” to key roles, and changed the names of products. However, we stopped short of issuing deeper changes that hold the power to end the bonds of Anti-Black oppression that continue to relegate Black people to the lowest rungs of the ladder. We abandoned changing company policies and processes, we neglected to redirect the millions of dollars in donations back to local Black neighborhoods, we stopped short of adding significant numbers of Black voices to positional power, we started ignoring our own and family members’ racism, and we avoided ending the psychological trauma of devaluing Blackness by asking Black people to hide or diminish parts of themselves to make others feel more comfortable. I could go on and on about what we didn’t do, but as you know from my other blogs, I’m biased towards reflection + action. I want to offer up three ways, we can start to “be true to what we said on paper” and end Anti-Black racism.
If you in any way want to actively dismantle Anti-Blackness, then daily integrate these 4-step consciousness-raising techniques™ into your personal, professional, and community lives.
If I say I’m for honoring Black people’s humanity, then I call out when its under attack.
When I witness another person harming Black people both covertly and overtly, I become an active bystander and try to stop it. In most cases, we sit by silently as Black people become dehumanized into changing who they are in order to make others feel comfortable. You can use this tool to take action.
If I say I’m about rooting out Anti-Blackness, then I root it out of me first.
Anti-Blackness exists because we hold it up every single day. Members of every race uphold Anti-Blackness, so everyone must STOP adding new patches to this dehumanizing quilt. We must transform self before we transform society. We must free ourself so we can help free our society from Anti-Black racism. This means we check ourselves when we collude with Anti-Blackness and seek to repair the harm. Use this tool for dealing with your own Anti-Blackness.
If I say I’m about rooting out Anti-Blackness and Anti-Racism, then I‘m willing to change to root out any systems of advantage/disadvantage based on race.
In order to end Anti-Black oppression, we must root it out of our policies, practices, processes, and systems. This means I’m willingly looking for Anti-Blackness and Anti-racism against other People of Color AND I’m actively using my power and choice to dismantle it. Most likely when Anti-Blackness is present other People of Color are also being oppressed. Thus, we need a both-and versus either-or approach: root out Anti-Blackness and all oppression against People of Color. Use this tool to look at systemic change for Anti-Blackness and Anti-Racism.
As always, the choice is yours. You have power and choice in every situation, it is up to you to decide to use them. I gave you three tools to disrupt Anti-Blackness. Are you going to be “true to what you said on paper?” Are you going to be true to what you said in Summer 2020? I hope you plan to be true. Our collective humanity depends on it.