do the work

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

Do the Work

How many more black people need to be murdered in order for white people to care?

Breonna TaylorBreonna Taylor, murdered in her sleep by police officers who forced their way into
her home in search of a man who had already been arrested.

This is on us. We as white people have to take action, and we have to constantly engage in our own anti-racism work in order to understand how we benefit from white supremacy, how we contribute to it, and how we can undo the hurtful, dangerous, racial biases that exist inside all of us. It doesn’t matter if you’re “one of the good ones.” Are you white in America? That means you have work to do.

Our country is not safe for people of color. Our entire system is built upon genocide, slavery, and white supremacy, and that didn’t just go away when the Civil War ended. BIPOC have been terrorized by white people since the founding of the U.S.A. and they continue to be hunted down, jailed, and murdered by hateful white people who are encouraged and emboldened by a hateful system and a hateful history. It is on all of our white shoulders to stop this.

George FloydGeorge Floyd, pinned to the ground and murdered by a police officer.

I am embarrassed. In my last post, I dove deep into my own pain about Covid and described what it has done to NYC, yet I did not at all examine what it has done to communities of color, what our police force and many healthcare providers and our “justice” system have done – and keep doing – to people of color. I threw in a few sentences about recognizing my white privilege and felt like that was enough. It took someone calling me out on Facebook for me to realize it absolutely isn’t enough at all.

Recognizing privilege is not the same as taking action. White people MUST ACT. Where is our outrage? Are we just so used to seeing black bodies pinned under white peoples’ knees, to seeing them dead in the streets, that we don’t feel anything in response?

I’m going to unplug for a bit and dedicate the time I would be spending on blogging and social media toward engaging in anti-racism work instead, both in myself and in my community. Sharing my personal story doesn’t matter right now. Nothing else matters right now.

Get to work.

Resources for Anti-Racism Work


Organizations to Follow


Instagram Accounts to Follow

There’s an inspiring and educational dialogue happening on Instagram about race relations, art, music, gender identity, American history, and how this all intersects. Do not follow these accounts if you have not already started on your own work. It is not okay to go into their spaces and be disrespectful or to center the discussion around yourself. This is a wonderful opportunity to listen to and learn from others. Don’t waste it.

Also, find out what district you live in and which politicians represent you so that you can start making those calls and sending those tweets.

 

Photo Credits
1. Instagram/@keyanna.guifarro
2. Offices of Ben Crump Law