antiracism

Organize, Act Up, Disrupt!

The Way is Already” – a protest song from One Day, an EP by my band, The Brooklyn Players Reading Society


I am absolutely thrilled over the facts that we have a new president and a more progressive Senate. I loved watching Kamala Harris’s historical inauguration and Amanda Gorman’s powerful performance. I celebrated the win in Georgia and gleefully toasted a glass to Stacey Abrams. And damn, it felt good.

But y’all, as much as we want him to be, Joe Biden is not our savior. He’s obviously an improvement, but if his track record as an Establishment Democrat means anything, he’s not going to end inhumane deportations, secure reproductive rights, protect transpeople, overhaul our justice system, nor begin the long overdue process of dismantling white supremacy – unless we make him.

It’s on us to hold our new president and Congresspeople accountable. Remember, they work for us. It’s also on us, especially those of us who are white, to work on ourselves, on recognizing and undoing our biases and on committing to a life of actively being antiracist.

But guess what? We don’t have to do this work alone. In fact, we can’t do it alone. It’s time to start collaborating, to come together and organize, act up, disrupt. And what a nice thing it is to be able to use our joy as motivation to keep up the work!

Not sure how to get started? Here’s a list of suggestions for you:


Social justice organizations I like (there are so many more):

Photo: Martin Luther King Jr. quote on a Pride Flag, available for sale by hburrell

It’s Black History Month!

 

Looking for a way to commemorate Black History Month? Here’s what I’ll be diving into:

  • 400 Souls by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain: “A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present–edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire.” Click here to sign up for a virtual reading and discussion with the editors and some contributors.
  • 13 Tiny Desk Concerts by Black Artists: Throughout the month, NPR’s “Tiny Desk” series is hosting an amazing lineup of virtual concerts by black artists of various genres, featuring old standbys like Wynton Marsalis as well as some up-and-coming, soon-to-be stars you definitely want to know about.
  • Stop Being Afraid! 5 Steps to Transform Your Conversations About Racism by Dr. Amanda Kemp: “Grounded in mindful self-compassion,” this workbook provides thoughtful essays, analyzations, and activities to help white allies “move beyond white guilt and shame… to have a voice for racial justice.”

I hope you’re able to find time to celebrate this month, as well as to reflect on why we still need a Black History Month and what steps we can take to end racism in this country. I know it’s daunting, but as my favorite singer, Bille Holiday, said, “The difficult I will do right now. The impossible will take a little while.”

                            Lady Day (Bille Holiday) with her dog

Stop Killing Black People

Casey Goodson Jr should still be alive.

This has to change. Cops have to stop murdering black people. It’s not a cop’s job to kill anyone, period. It just isn’t. These bullshit excuses they give are atrocious. It’s simple: STOP KILLING BLACK PEOPLE.

What will it take for white people to wake up, to get over themselves enough to see the terror our black neighbors live in, to accept that it is our job as white people to do something to change this?

I am so fed up. I don’t know what to do. I’ll keep diving into my own antiracism work, and I’ll keep sharing ways for you to do the work, too, but sometimes it feels like I’m yelling into a void while black people keep dying. How much yelling will it take?

Please consider making a donation to Casey’s family: www.gofundme.com/justiceforcaseygoodson.

My Three Moms and a Dave

This month marks 18 years living in the Northeast, 13 of them in Brooklyn. Before that I spent 18 years in KY. And now, in the same month in which I crossed this personal threshold of an equal number of years here as there, I find myself packing up my apartment and moving back to Middle America because Dave and I can no longer afford the rent. 

Covid did the unthinkable: it shut down New York City’s entertainment and nightlife industry. Dave, like so many others, is out of work indefinitely. It’s a huge loss, not just of income but of a whole community. 

But get this – my sister, Kelly, bought the house next door to my sibling, Max, then invited us to spend the upcoming year in one big Covid family compound. Four adults (aka my three moms and a Dave), four kids, two dogs, and one cat, doing our best to make it through this pandemic, this curse/gift of remote school and virtual offices, this country’s blatant racism, this frightening election season, this even more frightening climate crisis, together.

When I first left for college in Boston, I never would have guessed that I would fall in love with the Northeast, that I would come to identify myself as a New Yorker, as a part of the city, the city a part of me. It is hard to leave; there is sadness to be felt. But I am also very excited. Covid has pushed me into a place I never would have imagined. It’s scary and beautiful and full of magic. I am so grateful to have landed like this.

Will we return to a life in Brooklyn? I hope so. But these days, who knows what the future will bring. I’m still setting goals and dreaming dreams, but I’m not committing myself to any of them. Truth is, we never knew – and will never know – what the future holds for us. We humans built a society and made plans that gave us a false sense of control, of power, of certainty. We trusted it would continue despite how shaky, broken, and inherently oppressive it all is. Covid has changed me. It has changed us all. I would never choose any of this, but now that it’s here, I want to be changed by it.

I might not know where I’ll be living, what I’ll be doing, or what our country will even look like in a year from now, but what I do know is that I will never stop trying to bring a little more peace, justice, and joy into this existence. Too many people, especially people of color and immigrants, are not landing like my family is. Instead they are being murdered by police. They are being beaten and thrown into cages by ICE. They are being told that their lives don’t matter as much as the walls of their neighbors’ houses. They are being harassed by landlords, forcing them to choose between paying for food or paying for rent. There is no going back. And why would we? Our country was founded upon genocide and built upon slavery. All of its systems are rooted in white supremacy and the exploitation of labor. Our entire world is burning, literally and metaphorically.

This is our opportunity to transform.