Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, two names you should know. These two murders made it through the Coronavirus media onslaught only to land on us as a reminder that long after the corona crisis is gone, racism will still be alive and thriving in America.
The message that we are all in this together and that the way to beat this virus is to take precautions for the sake of others, has long lost its luster among too many, and yet many of us are doing just that. We are doing and sacrificing everything we can to make sure that ourselves and others stay safe.
But as much as this collective effort has had some effect on the virus, we have yet to turn it toward the evil of racism that has been killing us spiritually, emotionally and for black and brown and native people, physically for centuries.
What a heavy toll our hearts are taking, especially in communities of color where the virus is already racking up the biggest numbers. Numbers that are high because these black and brown and native bodies are already suffering the physical and mental diseases that are caused by systemic racism. The onslaught of pain at this time is almost unbearable.
I was asked by one of the white women in my On The Matter of Race course, how do I do it? How do I stand it? How do I keep going and hold on to hope when these heartbreaking murders are carried out during a time that has stressed the souls of the world?
That’s a hell of a question, one which I ask my ancestors daily because they know this pain. They carried this pain. They lived, survived, thrived and died with this pain in times where it never let up.
Corona will be a historical timepiece and racism will still be our present story. Oh, that we could shelter in and not come out until we had collective rules for dismantling racism. I am certain that won’t happen, but what will?
White people as a group you must learn about racism in all its forms, you must have the courage to learn about and understand white fragility, whiteness and white supremacy and you must keep on learning and then teach each other.
People of color, including our Asian communities, must include self-care and learning the effects of institutionalized racism on our communities.
Collective energies of all communities must come together to shine unyielding bright lights on racism and hold people responsible for these horrific acts, laws and capitalist oppressive systems (industrialized prisons as just one example).
I am tired as I write this, but I am not hopeless. I am tired, but I am not defeated. I am tired, but I am not without the relentless commitment to showing up to teach my course on race to the white people who know that they have so much to learn and even more to do.
What are you doing and what more are you willing to do?
Here’s a resource that can be shared at online conversations, in family conversations, in office conversations wherever you dare to talk about race. (Click the video below) For white people this is a total beginning education. For people of color and in particular black, brown and native people, it is a delicious validation of the collective harm that has been done to people who are just trying to live life in the USA.
As we survive this virus together, let us move forward to an outcome that does not continue the harms that got us here.