I hesitated to start this blog post. I had originally wanted to call it “Black Lives Matter.” But I thought about it more and said, no frickin’ way. Why would anyone want to hear what I (a white person) have to say about Black lives? Why do I think that I should have anything to say about Black lives? Black people are saying lots of super-important stuff that we should all listen to (and pay for). Period.
What I can do is to talk about whiteness. Sonya Renee Taylor (from The Body Is Not An Apology) recently released this video about what white people should be doing right now:
(Also, PS: I’m sorry if this video is not formatted properly. My WordPress skills are what they call “a work in progress.”)
Sonya Renee Taylor explains that white supremacy is white people thinking that they have anything to say about black people’s lives at all. White people have been socialised to believe that our thoughts and opinions deserve air time.
Taylor says to white people, “As soon as you start talking about other people, STOP. And start talking about whiteness. […] Say, ‘We are sick. Listen to us. We are debating a whole group of people’s lives like they’re some sort of object. What in us makes us feel like we even have the right to do that?'”
And she’s frickin’ right. It is time for white people to stop talking about black people, and to talk about our own white bullshit.
This is not the end of the conversation, not by a long way. We as white people will make a butt-ton of mistakes. We must put in the work to dismantle white supremacy within ourselves and within our society, as steps 1-100. Nowhere in the top 100 is to talk about black lives.
Please hold me accountable in my writing when I fuck up. Let’s keep this conversation going. White supremacy is not a bogeyman in a white cape; it is our own beliefs that we even get an opinion about someone else’s life.
It’s hard. It feels awful. But it’s white supremacy that makes us feel like we should be comfortable.
If we are not uncomfortable, we’re not digging deep enough. I want my white followers to commit to following one (or more) uncomfortable thought per day. When something hits you and you get that breathless feeling like you just hit your thumb with a hammer, stay with it. Don’t try to comfort yourself or numb your feelings.
Ask yourself, “Why does this make me uncomfortable?” Follow that line of thinking until you drill down to the white supremacist belief that you are unconsciously holding. It’s there; I promise. Once you start teaching your brain to do the heavy work, you’ll start to see ways of thinking that you used to agree with, and you’ll go, Yikesola. Sit with that, then keep moving forward.
Featured image was created by the author using canva.com.