This is part of a new “blog series,” though I don’t like to call it that, because this is so much more than just a blog series that I’ll do temporarily. This is something I want to make part of my daily routine, something that I actively improve throughout my entire life: being a better ally towards groups who I’ve claimed to be an ally since college, yet never did anything to actually make that true.
So, as I spoke about last week, I am following the Justice in June monthly guide to help make confronting my own white privilege and the racist system we’re built upon part of my day; to help build a foundation to start my lifelong journey as an actual ally. And I’m sharing this to make sure that a) readers of this platform know where I stand, b) that I use my voice to share what I’ve learned and share resources and c) encourage discussion and discourse and further learning with my readers.
This article centers on the death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was out for a run, before he was shot and killed by white men who perceived him for being a threat, for simply going on on a daily jog in his own neighborhood. It discusses how black males, in particular, have to live in a state of fear for the fear white people claim to feel because of them being black men, paying attention to not who they are as individuals, but what they are by their skin color.
The following quotes stood out the most:
“Black males have been made into the fathers of fear. But the fears of black men are bastards. Broods we never wanted, but can’t escape. All these bastards are coming after us, suspecting us continuously, terrorizing us constantly, and we can’t escape. The black man can’t escape the fear of the black man.
I just don’t think Americans fully realize how terrorizing it is to black males when we are falsely suspected as violent criminals. All Americans seem to be thinking about is their fear of us—not our fear of their fear. Black males fear racist fear because we know from experience what happens when the police are called, when the Klan is called, when faces are reddened, when purses or ropes or guns are clutched, when they cross the street away from us, or cross the street toward us clutching their police badges, or their badges of white masculinity.”
What I learned: that black men have to experience the fear of being portrayed as something to be feared and how even daily events, like running, will be used and twisted as an excuse to act upon that senseless fear.
Day Two and Three: The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Realized Who was Dying by Adam Serwer, of The Atlantic
But the pandemic has introduced a new clause to the racial contract. The lives of disproportionately black and brown workers are being sacrificed to fuel the engine of a faltering economy, by a president who disdains them. This is the COVID contract. Although the full picture remains unclear, researchers have found that disproportionately black counties “account for more than half of coronavirus cases and nearly 60 percent of deaths.”* The disproportionate burden that black and Latino Americans are bearing is in part a direct result of their overrepresentation in professions where they risk exposure, and of a racial gap in wealth and income that has left them more vulnerable to being laid off. Black and Latino workers are overrepresented among the essential, the unemployed, and the dead.
What I Learned: The idea of the “racial contract” that is an individual, unconscious contract that says whites can do things to black people and get away with things that black people cannot, creating a double standard based on race that is dangerous and deadly for black people. Then, it builds upon this idea, introduced by the philosopher Charles W. Mills in their book by the same title, with how it is evolved into the COVID Contract, examining how black people are disproportionately effected by the health and government systems that are not only set in place, but also their response to the pandemic.
What I Learned: That the census using prisoners to count as numbers in the city they are currently imprisoned, not where they are from–which could change voting lines, also known as prison gerrymandering.
Day Five: Defund Police Email
What I Learned: Not only did I learn more about my own city and how they use their budget, but I also took an active role in emailing and asking for change. Now, I’ll need to do a better job following my local news and make sure our leaders are listening to these demands and taking police defunding seriously, and vote accordingly.
Day Six and Seven: How Studying Privileged Can Strengthen Compassion by Peggy McIntosh
What I Learned: Needing to unlearn how we are taught to believe that white is knowledge and that anyone who isn’t white suddenly has less knowledge; though it is true that, because of white privilege, it creates the systems that allows whites to obtain more knowledge and opportunities–and we haven’t necessarily earned these opportunities through any other means than sometimes by nothing more than but our white skin.
Question to ask yourself: what do I get as unearned advantages that black people do not get? Continue asking this until you can identity these areas and then figure out what you can do to change them.
I hope this post helped you learn something new, whether it was about prison gerrymandering to the idea of the racial contract to how to write to your local officials and start the conversation for defunding the police. Let me know your thoughts down below or any other resources you’ve found particularly helpful! Together, we can break down this system built on racism and white privilege and create something where the system supports movements like black lives matter.