Last week I faced micro-aggressive racism while attempting to book a blowout at a hair salon in Central Austin. I was told that I needed to go somewhere “where Black people do Black hair”. Though the experience was admittedly upsetting, it did not surprise me. The mistreatment was nothing new.
While I’d love to revel in a new phase of leadership, I know that the system remains: the Black experience has gone unchanged.
We have decades to go until our society truly transforms. Yet, I know there are things we can do collectively to make real strides. We must push and prod from each perspective to dismantle a structure that has existed all throughout humanity.
I implore you to consider the role you play in this movement. The surge of trending support for Black Lives Matter over the summer has largely faded. But, it was in response to something that continues to persist. Define your role and play it.
“I would like to play the part of someone who has worked on my consciousness sufficiently so that if things get tough, in terms of the environment, issues with social structures, oppression, protecting minority groups, whatever the thing is, I would like to be able to be in the scene without getting caught in my own reactivity to it, without getting so caught in my own fear that I become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.” — Ram Dass
You will undoubtedly encounter individuals who are ignorant, discriminatory, prejudice, racist, or any combination of the four. In those situations, it can be difficult to know how to respond; especially if emotions are running high. But reform can’t only take place in government, prisons, or schools. It starts in intimate fireside chats, a grocery store line, or a phone call with a hair salon.
Consider carving out time to sit down and reflect on how you want to respond to people who are causing harm to the BIPOC community. Ensure that your reply is concise, informative, and even curious. You never know: you might provoke an enlightening conversation.
“The dangers of the world are furthered only when we decide that the suffering of others is not our problem. Do not live your life in a bubble, and if you do, let it be one that is large enough for all of humanity. — Cleo Wade
All too often, BIPOC voices and stories are silenced by algorithms and media platforms that uplift the majority. To be a bridge is to disrupt that structure. Even just gifting a book by a Black woman to someone who had never heard of the author before can edify their experience and outlook.
Share and uplift melanated voices.
“This is not a time to cross the aisle for performative unity and sing kumbaya with white supremacists. This is a time for a deep reckoning. Especially for white and white-passing women. Now is the time to prioritize, uplift, and center those made most marginalized: Black and Indigenous women and femmes.” — Rachel Ricketts
Attend workshops, follow makers and creatives, purchase artwork, watch films, and continually expose yourself to the Black experience. Though courses serve a very important purpose, you do not get a pass nor a certificate when that work is finished. Instead of overwhelming yourself all at once, holistically dive in as a lifelong commitment.
Listen to the most recent podcast episode Sweet, sweet fantasies, Baby on Still Processing to learn more about the difference between dreams and fantasies in America.
“Equality means we all get the same thing. Well, if you give a man shoes who has no socks, he still ends up with blisters. As we build a better tomorrow, let’s do it with equity in mind. We have to address the deficits as we work toward collective gains. When we focus on equity, we will see communities become whole. — Gary Chambers
In many ways, the financial gaps between White and Black individuals today mirror those of the mid 20th century. Little has changed. We can see this clearly when we look at millionaires but more startling are the disparities amongst the middle class. Furthermore, the COVID-19 recession has hit Black families and business owners hardest.
There are many charities you can donate to. At this present moment, voter suppression is a major concern in Georgia. To aid in a more fair election that could potentially support our future leader, donate to Stacey Abram’s organization, Fair Fight.