Dispatch 1, The Necessary Road To Unlearning Anti-blackness
“If I find the constitution being misused, I shall be the first to burn it.”—Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
Since the protests started this weekend, I have kept thinking: what’s next?
Because, protesting—especially for non-black, non-indigenous folks—is not enough. It’s not even the beginning. I want you to understand that this is a commitment that we need to collectively take to make a better world. It’s a commitment to being anti-racist, undoing internalized anti-black racism, and truly decolonizing by divesting from capitalism. This means it’s an everyday kind of investment of self to REALLY end white supremacy.
I don’t care if you think it’s impossible, and I’m frankly tired of people who don’t do anything and their nihilism. I don’t want to hear about the impossibility of a better world, especially if you’re not actively participating in making it so.
So, what are we going to do? Firstly, it’s important to not do anything out of performativity. And it’s hard not to be suspicious of some of this. It’s great that so many people are posting and saying #BlackLivesMatter, but there’s nothing profound in telling the truth. Especially if you’re just reposting something. This isn’t Kony2012, let’s not slide into complacency. I really want to reiterate how vital this momentum is, and how we cannot afford to lose this time that we are now capturing… we have resistance on the ground, and 45 is scared. This is an uprising, and we all need to commit to action, in any way we can.
I remember after Ferguson I felt so fucking enraged, but I hoped something would change. After Trayvon Martin. After Sandra Bland. Did you know that the Ferguson protestors have mysteriously died? George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop are just some of the names of black people that have died at the hands of white supremacist violence this year. Yesterday, James Scurlock was murdered at a protest, the murderer will not face charges. Chris Beaty, a former Indiana football player, was shot dead at a protest yesterday. David McAtee was killed by police yesterday morning. McAtee owned a barbecue business that gave free meals to cops. This is the perfect encapsulation of racism in America. Exactly the same devastation of finding out Chauvin worked at the same nightclub as George Floyd.
It points to the dehumanizing ways that white people view black people, regardless of how often they interact. It shows that communities can live side by side, share the sidewalk, say hello every day, but that inherent anti-blackness does not subside in this country, always bubbling at the surface ready for the first opportunity to show, with horrific almost premeditated violence, who is really in charge.
In 2014, Cord Jefferson wrote this tragic piece about the racism beat, how black journalists are tasked with the onslaught of proving black people’s humanity (do you remember when the NYT called Mike Brown, “no angel”)—through writing—to a country, people and society that deems black life to be less than. To keep doing it, year after year, decade after decade is exhausting. So I don’t really care if you think it’s impossible to end these structures, I just want you to try. To really sit down and question how you’re going to commit to showing up every day until we topple this shit. Consider it a wellness practice.
And, it’s fine if you don’t think you’re racist, but are you protecting the black people in your life? Standing up for black people at your work? Do you listen to black people? Like, really listen. There are so many ways we can show up. Start by tackling your own anti-blackness. Talk to your family, start revolutionizing your communities, this is collective, and it’s the most important work of our time.
Having been raised with a pretty politically aware and intelligent father (given the times, my man just started writing a book of political poetry, and his first poem is dedicated to George Floyd) I’ve been organizing since I was 12 (fuck NGOs tho) and even still I’ve had to think deeper… be uncomfortable.. and unlearn so much anti-blackness because we live in a white supremacist world that upholds anti-black ideology and racial capitalism as a norm… that even as a Brown, queer, Muslim person I’ve still had to confront my own unconscious biases taught to me.
This work does not end with a protest, with a retweet. You are not allowed to pat yourself on the back and feel good that you donated once. I am tired, but I cannot imagine how my black friends feel. This is noxious, this is traumatic, but for them—it’s inescapable. I’ve spent years of my life convincing white people that racism exists and that it is nefarious, deadly, and the fabric of our society. I no longer have the time or energy. It’s your work to do this. To step up. And to honestly start healing the work your ancestors participated consciously or unconsciously. If you don’t understand that’s how privilege is placed and passed down… and that that was done very intentionally because white people do think they’re superior—which is why they colonized the world and introduced slavery—then you are a part of the problem. Sit with that uncomfortability.
All weekend I brainstormed. For those of you who have been following my work for a while, you’ve known my writing has been about race for a long time. Even my context of healing comes from the paradigm of unlearning and de-centering white supremacy. In fact, I started writing about my own healing process here to track it, to really start thinking more expansively about the systemic issues that govern us, and thus block healing. For me, and many folks, white supremacy is a major component of that block. But, we can change that. That’s what I’m fighting for.
Down below I collected a lot of information throughout these last few days. So, I really want you to ask yourself what it will take to commit to a better world. Everyone has a part to play, please let’s do the work. We can’t give up. Below is a great diagram of re-thinking how to participate in the revolution. Knowing your role is vital to the future. This is a shift of consciousness. Find your role in the revolution. I beg you, please.
Asian-American Racial Justice Toolkit
Here’s a National Resource List
Alternatives to calling the police, a resource (REALLY SPREAD THIS AROUND)
How To Be A Better Ally, an Anti-Racism Toolkit
South Asian Queer and Trans Collective Resource List
Mariame Kaba, of Project NIA, created this resource site on ending violence
The Marshall Project, on Prison Abolition
A primer for White People to organize made by my friend Dev Aujla
From my friend Tanaïs
FYI to non-black folks:
The black-owned Ethel’s Club is hosting Grieving and Healing group sessions led by black therapists for black folks around the world.
Healthyish compiled this list of mental health resources for black people as well
The Loveland Foundation, another therapy (specializing again, for black folks) site
This, by Cornel West, was spiritual:
If you haven’t heard, many bail funds have reached capacity (!!!) and are asking for donations elsewhere, so Act Blue created this amazing way to split and support 38 bail funds. I encourage you to commit to regularly donating. Especially if are RICH!
Also the Action Network that’s supporting protestors
Multiple Bail Funds you can individually donate to!
You can also choose to do a monthly donation with the Action Network and Act Blue, which I would encourage!
Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon
Angela Davis wrote, “Are Prisons Obsolete?” In 2003 and the whole thing is available for here to read.
The Annihilation of Caste by B.R. Ambedkar
My friend Marlee suggested this, My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem
The End Of Policing by Alex S. Vitale (if you click on this and choose “ebook” you can read for free!)
The Black Jacobins by C.L.R James
I Write What I Like by Steve Biko
Out of the House of Bondage by Thavolia Glymph
The Karma of Brown Folk by Vijay Prashad