I've taken to developing a phrase for myself each day to help me get through the day. I really wrote "Today will be an impactful day," under 1/6/2021 in my notebook this morning ... this is not what I meant, Universe, but I'd be lying if I said I was surprised. If you are, it might be time to read So You Want to Talk About Race.
I typically pour more than a day’s worth into my writing and today I only have a few hours, so please offer me some grace as I begin this series on our problematic history in the United States with mostly quotes and references. I'll continue to add my personal thoughts as we work through these issues together, we're not going to solve it all today. And I do say we, for as Angela Davis says, "It is a mistake to assume that these issues can be resolved on an individual level."
On Planet-Jordan, we are about intersectional environmentalism. Leah Thomas defines this as, "An inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the Earth are interconnected. It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the Earth, to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality. Intersectional environmentalism advocates for justice for people + the planet." Racial justice is environmental justice.
Today we are discussing systemic racism, white supremacy, and terrorism in the United States. We are not discussing protesting or rioting, we are discussing terrorism.
Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” -Albus Dumbledore
I recently asked on my IG feed what everyone has been unlearning and was astounded by the number of people who came to me about racism. Let's talk about it.
What is it? According to sociologist Joe Feagin, "Systemic racism includes the complex array of antiblack practices, the unjustly gained political-economic power of whites, the continuing economic and other resource inequalities along racial lines, and the white racist ideologies and attitudes created to maintain and rationalize white privilege and power. Systemic here means that the core racist realities are manifested in each of society’s major parts [...] each major part of U.S. society—the economy, politics, education, religion, the family—reflects the fundamental reality of systemic racism."
I don't know about you, but I was (unintentionally by my parents and very intentionally by the system) raised in a whitewashed environment.
What is whitewashing?
“The world is black, the world is white.” So go the lyrics to a 1970s number one hit about racism by the band Three Dog Night. Unfortunately, the world according to movies, TV, music, art, literature, and history often isn’t even that complex—it tends to be almost 100 percent white. Racism and White supremacy factor into this monochromatic alternate universe, where white dominates the big picture, pushing other colors to the sidelines or out of the frame entirely. When historians, creators, and storytellers do this, they’re guilty of whitewashing, in modern vernacular. According to one Merriam-Webster definition, to whitewash is to “gloss over or cover-up,” which, in a sense, is what the racial form of whitewashing does. It creates a White world where sins against people of color, including Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, and other minority groups cease to matter because, in revisionist history and reality, those minority groups barely exist. Race is a divisive concept." - Reader's Digest
Psychotherapist and Suicidologist, Janel Cubbage, said it well, BIPOC are not minorities, they have been minoritized. They are not underrepresented, they have been historically excluded. I'm gonna say this part louder for the people in the back: LANGUAGE MATTERS!
"Racism is a spectrum, with varying degrees of unconscious & learned behaviors reinforced by society every day. It's not: either you're racist or you're not. It's to what degree are you prejudiced, against whom, and why?" - Padma Lakshmi, via Twitter
Matt Bernstein expands on this, "all white people benefit from the same institutionalized racism. This does not mean all white people hate people of color - it means that we all still benefit from their enduring oppression. We benefit from Eurocentric school curriculums, we benefit from racial profiling, we benefit from racist jokes."
Let's touch on feminism for a moment, shall we? Which is just equality - for those of you that are terrified of the word. I'm not going to eat you, men, I just want you to know I could if I wanted to. But that's neither here nor there - what I want to focus on is equality. My toxic trait is reading approximately 12 books at a time. It's what makes me a pain in the ass and charming at the same time, what can I say? At this current moment, one of those books is Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett. In the introduction (no, I haven't gotten past the introduction yet, get off my back) she discusses the difficulty of recognizing sexism now versus sexism in the past. Before, "when a guy pinched your ass or told you that 'women don't write at Newsweek' it certainly wasn't fair, but at least you knew it wasn't fair. It was clear-cut discrimination - sexism with a legal definition and a thumbprint - not simply a "feeling"...like the microaggressions that people of color endure daily - racism masked as subtle insults or dismissals".
Men used to overtly accost women, but that isn't acceptable anymore. Now it's, " watching a man instinctively turn to a woman to take notes in a meeting," (this literally happened to me a week ago), "... It's following all the rules, learning all the way in, and still having to worry about being perceived as "too aggressive" when you display the behavior required of a person in charge. It's knowing that a colleague calling another woman "ambitious" is the opposite of a compliment...It's having to work twice as hard to prove you're once as good, or three, four, five times as hard if you happen to be female and of color."
I like what @floralspells has to say about BLM, "Matter" is the bare minimum. Black lives are worthy, beloved, and needed."
Narcissism “is not a right-wing or left-wing problem, this is not an older generation or younger generation problem, this is not an Eastern or Western problem, this is a human problem.” - Mark Manson (Everything is F*cked, Chapter 3)
Today, white feelings were held in higher regard than black lives. Today we experienced terrorism, "a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims." I join Blair Imani in saying, "It's okay to completely ignore and disregard 'perspectives' & opinions that are rooted in erasing other people's humanity. It's okay to decide someone isn't worth listening to if they are saying harmful things. That's okay."
"As our struggles mature, they produce new ideas, new issues, and new terrains on which we engage in the quest for freedom." - Angela Davis, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle
I plan to add more to this later this week - this barely scratches the surface as to what I have to say on all of this, but for now, I must rest. My heart is with you.
Last thing I'll say: Read books by black authors and buy them from black-owned bookstores. Diversify your media, it's 2021, for Goddesses' sake. McKenzie Jean-Philippe of Oprah Magazine took the time to make a comprehensive list broken down by state for you, find it here: 125 Black-Owned Bookstores in America That Amplify the Best in Literature.