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Talking about race in all the spaces

I was just getting into the groove of occasional pandemic blogging when George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis. The world was already on fire before it happened, but this event took us to another level of anguish and devastation. Millions of people expressed their collective outrage as they took to the streets to protest yet another horrific killing of a Black person by the police. A huge awakening was and is taking place as more and more people are committing to taking action to dismantle racism in this country.

I stopped writing in here. There are always many reasons not to get around to writing (see: single working mom with two little kids at home in a pandemic), but after a while it dawned on me that I was very much paralyzed on the topic of race- couldn’t go on without writing about it, but unsure how to write about it in this space, thus far dedicated to capturing details of my life as a solo (white) mom.

I wasn’t sure what to write about racial injustice (who wants to hear a white lady’s interpretation of all this?). But I also couldn’t go on writing about my usual topics of day-to-day cute kid stuff as if nothing ever happened; with no acknowledgement of the uprising taking place, of continued police brutality, of the sickening racist systems on which our nation is built. Of all that we can and must do.

I’ve watched many a Facebook group melt down over this in recent weeks–someone posts, “Do we have to talk about that here?” And then all hell breaks loose.

Well, I don’t expect all hell to break loose here, because it’s my blog and I can write whatever I want. But I now realize that yes, mamas. We have to talk about it here and in every space we’re in, because it’s related to everything and we have to stop pretending it’s not. Silence communicates ignorance, apathy, or (at worst) conscious complicity. I’m creeped-out and nervous in that space of silence and I’m no longer OK with it, I’m no longer giving silent people the benefit of the doubt. So that’s why I’m writing about it here, because I have a small platform, and because otherwise I’m not sure I can continue writing here at all.

I posted on a local single mom Facebook group on this topic, because no one had posted about it, and I was getting that creepy feeling– like, who’s in here? Are there Trump supporters here [gag]? And if I’m feeling uncomfortable, how are the Black moms feeling about this silence?

I wrote something and deleted it. Wrote something and deleted again. Spent two hours revising a post and chickening out and deleting AGAIN. I admitted to myself that I was terrified–of saying the wrong thing, of making it about me (“centering”), of “virtue signaling” or”performative allyship” and every other thing that clueless white people do when discussing race. I also had no idea who I was dealing with in there and what responses might be coming my way. I could imagine someone posting a comment like “All lives matter” or worse, sending me completely over the edge.

I phoned a friend who is good at this stuff and she encouraged me to go ahead and post. I did. The post acknowledged the painful time we’re in, that I personally have a lot of work to do to be a better ally to BIPOC, and that I’m learning. I asked how other white moms are thinking about our role in making change happen and how they’re getting involved. And how we can make the next generation better by raising anti-racist kids.

I also addressed the Black mamas and those raising Black children (and I want to do that here too): I stand with you and support you. You belong here.

Posting was mostly a relief by that point- and responses were thoughtful. Lots of people didn’t engage (which makes me wonder). But I had no responses that weren’t fully supportive.

I had no idea how difficult that would be–and it was just a post on social media. Imagine being on the receiving end of a lifetime of racist actions, policies, assumptions. Fearing for the safety of loved ones.

I’m very sheltered in my liberal bubble (and therefore have little practice with this) but damn- I can post. And if I’m faced with racist responses, then I will stand up to it. It’s the least I can do.

Maybe it will come out clunky and awkward, and maybe I’ll F up, but it’s really important to do it anyway. Thus my post here today.

I came across this quote today:

“While many people are afraid to talk about race, just as many use talk to hide from what they really fear: action.”

~Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race

So far, I’ve been talking about talk. But most important is taking action. Sure, we can cancel Aunt Jemima and “master bedrooms,” but if Black people continue to be brutalized and murdered by police, our biggest problem remains unsolved.

Clearly SMCs have no free time, especially in a pandemic, but if you’re a white person looking for a way to integrate action into your daily life, I highly recommend this 30-day Justice Plan to get started- an awesome curated list of articles, books, podcasts, TED talks, action steps, organizations to donate to, etc.). Doable and eye-opening.

And just the beginning. Hopefully we keep this momentum going forever (so it’s important that we pace ourselves). (and, full disclaimer, I haven’t worked through all of it yet–I’m thinking of it as a Summer Justice Plan.)

Yesterday was the 4th of July. We had a completely normal day with not one ounce of patriotic activity included. It never even came up. 2020: obviously not America’s best year. I believe that taking action to support the Black Lives Matter movement is one of the most patriotic things we can do right now. We have many generations of healing ahead of us before the pain of slavery’s legacy subsides.

I took my kids to a protest in our village a few weeks ago, and I hope we’ll be doing much more of this together in the years ahead. I want to raise white kids who are anti-racist, and who understand white privilege and our history. And who’ve learned how to fight for change.

Stay safe. Black lives matter.

Miss you!! xoxo

blm