White Silence

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.

Action

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/

Innocence Project @https://www.innocenceproject.org/donate/?f_src=FY20_web_x_gen_nmat_campTop000Button_Main

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

The Red&Black @https://www.redandblack.com/culture/6-podcasts-about-the-black-lives-matter-movement/article_ee63981c-ab6b-11ea-aff0-6bcc5da0108f.html

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

Fruitvale Station

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.

16 thoughts on “White Silence

    1. Thanks, MB. It took me a while to gather my thoughts, but I most definitely do NOT want to be counted as one with White Silence.

  1. MP – great post. Thanks for the story and reference materials. I think if you can wear and highlight Black-designed or owned brands that will help economically—an essential place. My niece in Boston posted black-ownEd restaurants to order from. Now industries are taking a hard look at themselves and hopefully many will hire people of color so everyone can participate and add their voice. This is our work now. Be well.

    1. Thanks, Jane. I couldn’t agree more. Doing my research and those posts will be coming.
      I’m glad BLM is growing stronger every day. Onward!

  2. This was a very courageous and well-spoken commentary, Mary Paula.
    I remember buying the Black Panther newspapers in Harvard Square and listening to Malcolm X and Angela Davis.
    This change has been long-festering.
    Hopefully, the repercussions, revolution and changes in the legal systems for Afro-Americans will be a stepping stone for the other
    much-needed and over-due society changes for Native Americans, abused children, vets, seniors, teachers, the handicapped and all those who don’t have visible voices in this country.

    1. Thank you, Regina. I’m with you. This revolution is long overdue, and hopefully, will carry all the other unheard and abused along with it. Onward!

    1. Thanks so much, Nancy. I’m in watch/listen/learn mode, so I will check out the PBS link.
      Stay safe, stay strong!

  3. Wonderful post! Thank you for the resources. The video you shared on IG was so stirring. I shared it with my Spanish guy and he was definitely impacted as well. It feels shameful to very have walked that street and dreamed of buying anything there.

    Really Puts things in perspective!
    Kathy

    1. That’s exactly how I felt all those 60 plus blocks. My eyes and heart were opened like never before, and my purse and checkbook are definitely closed to brands and stores that don’t take a stand. It wasn’t lost on me that most of the security teams I passed were made up of Black men. I can’t begin to imagine what they were thinking or feeling.

  4. Here’s a comment with context from someone who may or may not have had some Common Sense 😉: “When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.”
    – Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

  5. Yes! Yes! Yes!
    Thanks for your words, MP.
    Your walk down Madison Ave sounds surreal and eerie. What a picture of white privilege. And yet, it’s not just there. I’ve been wrestling with just how much ease and privilege I have. It’s a messy process, but one I’m thankful that we’re in.
    Thanks for speaking out and helping us to continue to think AND act!

    1. Thanks, Suzy. Change is messy, hard, and never as fast as ew want it to be. But we’ve got to keep thinking, talking, acting…together, and we will get there!

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