To Well-Meaning White Folk on Fear and Fatigue of Racist Violence
I’m thinking about Alton Sterling.
It’s like I got hit in the chest, hard. The air expelled out of me in a rush, and, stunned, my lungs stunned and halted before they draw in another breath. Another Black man is slaughtered by police. Again.
I am terrified. I am angry. But my white fear and white anger is not the same as the fear and anger experienced by Black and People of Color in the wake of racist violence.
See, I am not scared for my life. As a white person, I am not faced with the day-to-day targeting by police or other institutional enforcers. I am afraid for the brilliant and beautiful Black people I know, appreciate, work with, care for, love. I am frightened by what seems like state-sanctioned annihilation of Black people. I am not afraid for myself.
I’m terrified because these moments, more than others, provide sharp clarity to the privilege I have because of the legacy of white supremacy. And still, I feel powerless. I feel guilty that the price for my privilege is paid by the unrelenting slaughter of Black people. I am ashamed that I am not doing more. I’m afraid because I know it’s going to happen again and I don’t definitively know what I can do to stop it.
But, this isn’t a moment for my fear to win over. I, like many other white folk out there, am getting overwhelmed and exhausted by the consistent slaughter of Black folk. But guess what:
WHITE FOLK DON’T GET TO BAIL.
The Black and Brown folk who are consistently targeted by racism and anti-Black violence get to be tired, get to rest, get to take space for themselves and their communities. But not us, because it’s not our asses on the line. When we want to take a break from the harsh realities of racism, we still continue to reap the privileges. People of color don’t get to rest from racism. Neither do we.
When this shit gets heavy white folk gotta get moving.
Here are a few links for white folk that can help you take action and keep moving to combat racist violence.
Get involved with SURJ—Showing Up for Racial Justice—an org for white folk to take action combating racism
10 Ways White People Can Help Make Black Lives Matter, The Good Men Project
Be educated. Slavery to Mass Incarceration, an illustrated video from the Equal Justice Initiative