“How can we ensure that Black lives really matter?”
This is the question we posed to online readers as protests erupted across the country in late May. Since then, the response has been overwhelmingly heartfelt and thoughtful. A range of comments from policy ideas to lift up Black communities to conversations about White silence and complicity came pouring in. You can join the conversation, too, at yesmagazine.org/blm. Here are a few excerpts:
Thank you for creating this space, YES! There can be no healing without being able to name, speak out, and address everyday white supremacy, privilege, and their kin. I’m seeing a lot of energy around anti-racism, but not all anti-racist or social justice trainings are the same. Put plainly, some still focus on maintaining white comfort. As an educator, researcher, and cis Black woman and Afro-Latina, I’m deeply concerned about education that produces more of the same. Say their names, say our names, and name white supremacy. Of course, this requires careful facilitation! Black and non-Black educators could use some tool sharing to that end. Suggestions: Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks, Storytelling for Social Justice by Lee Anne Bell, and works by AnnaLouise Keating. —LaProfesora
White folks need to educate themselves on how we got here. Knowing the language of oppression and the systems of oppression is key. Read, read, read. There are hundreds of books and articles available. Start with James Baldwin, Ibram X. Kendi, Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Angela Davis. A must-read for all White folks is White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. And, listen, listen, listen. Really listen to the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement. There are many. Finally, join a local Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) chapter. If one does all these things, your eyes will be opened and hopefully your hearts and minds to the injustices ingrained in our society. —M_McD
While Blacks have been seeking equality, Whites have been busy building equity. Property ownership, which has largely been denied to Blacks, has been the backbone of middle-class wealth. With a house (which Blacks were not allowed to acquire) that has gained in value 10 times over a couple of generations, a White family has been able to use the property as collateral for loans for education, small business ventures, investments, etc. The broken promise of the Reconstruction era of 40 acres and a mule continues to wound this nation. Don’t break your word, America, to our Black brothers and sisters, or to our Native or Brown or Golden brothers and sisters. You’re giving Whites a bad reputation. —NancyRose
Gosh, I can think of so many things that need to happen. I have to list them, and the list is not in any specific order.
1. Gerrymandering and voter suppression must stop, perhaps even officially made illegal by federal law.
2. Voting by mail must be a federal law.
3. Medicare for all—free to all children and to all registered voters. Some exceptions will probably be needed.
4. A guaranteed income provided by the federal government that covers all the essentials, such as housing, food, utilities, etc. Anyone 18 years or older would qualify as long as they are being a productive member of society. That could include having a paying job and/or doing volunteer work.
5. Federally ensuring that all K-12 schools are adequately funded, that all school buildings are safe and adequately maintained and that all teachers are well paid. Additionally, K-8 schools must be within walking distance of their students or less than a 15-minute bus ride away. Religious and for-profit schools will not qualify for the funding.
6. Technical high schools, technical colleges, and academic colleges and universities will be free to all students and funded by a 50% federal and 50% state match. Religious and for-profit schools/colleges/universities will not qualify for the funding.
7. Stop racial profiling.
8. Revamp police departments and their mission. Include social workers, addiction counselors, etc., as team members and responders.
9. Revise/remove all local, state and federal laws that are aimed at criminalizing and/or discriminating against people of color and/or the poor.
I have more thoughts to add, so will continue my list at a later time. — KRamage
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