Last week I made my first trip on mass transit into the city to go for a doctor’s appointment. Afterwards I walked the length of Madison Avenue from 96th Street to the Path train at 32nd Street. I don’t think I’m exaggerating if I call this the ultimate corridor of White Privilege. Now however, every store front was either boarded up or empty with a For Rent sign. Nothing had been looted or damaged. It was an eerie and disturbing experience. And I had more than 3 miles to think about it. One thought I had. What if every boarded up storefront had signage in support of Black Lives Matter — instead of no statement.
Black Lives Matter
The unjust and senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others (even as I write this post) have made clear the gap between justice and safety for people of color in our nation. The raw grief and rage these instances of police brutality have unleashed are completely understandable, and frankly, anything but surprising.
Institutionalized racism goes beyond the physical threat of everyday physical violence. The economic inequity of personal finances is staggering. For example, according to the Center on Poverty & Social Policy, Black families with a new baby have a median household income of $36, 300. For White families, it’s more than twice that at $80,000.
Let’s talk college graduation gaps, more student loan debt and defaults, 73.4 cents on the dollar, the widest home ownership gap in 50 years, fewer retirement accounts with less in them, and less left over for the next generation.
In addition to the psychic stress and physical suffering of our country’s Black population, systemic racism has held them down financially as well. For generations. And financial security is something the world of White Privilege rarely gives a second thought to. Why would we?
I will not be silent any longer. I need to learn. I will make mistakes. I need to listen. I need to look in the mirror. I don’t have the answers. I need to take action. I need to be a part of the change that must come. Now.
If you can’t join a protest, you can support organizations and politicians of change. Here are some I have given to in the last few weeks.
NAACP @ https://www.naacp.org/
Black Lives Matter @https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/
The Bail Project @https://bailproject.org/
Color of Change @https://colorofchange.org/
Jaime Harrison, who is running for the U.S. Senate against Lindsay Graham@https://jaimeharrison.com/
Charles Booker, who is running against Mitch McConnell in Kentucky @https://bookerforkentucky.com/
Joyce Elliot for Congress (Arkansas) @https://www.joyceelliott.com/
And I’m on the lookout for more candidates and more ways to help every day.
Listen & Learn
All of the non-profit sites above offer excellent and eye-opening (and heart-opening) references to educate yourself. I’ve also learned about other sources from friends and family.
I love Kamau and you will too. Check him out @http://www.wkamaubell.com/podcasts-full
BBC The Documentary Podcast @https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03gzydx
Still Processing with Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham @https://www.nytimes.com/column/still-processing-podcast
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead — one of the most perfect yet heartbreaking books I have ever read.
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson — the epic story of America’s Great Migration.
Becoming by Michelle Obama. No words needed.
American Son @ Netflix
Da 5 Bloods @ Netflix (and any other film by Spike Lee)
In the weeks ahead, I’ll be sharing more on Black-owned businesses and brands you can support — from fashion to skincare to art to food and more. In spite of our collective pain, there is so much to engage with and learn from. I would love to find out more from you, so please share.
Let’s be strong and support each other. Let’s make change the New Normal. Let’s end racism once and for all.