Precursor: The brilliant Dr. Eboni Zamani-Gallaher just posted this article which talks about climate and racialized realities. Because my post doesn't go into the social-political-educational context, read here for Dr. Zamani-Gallaher's piece.
It's August 14th.
Two days ago, we all received word that acts of terrorism and violence occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Yesterday, I received a message from a wonderful and amazing close friend who wrote, "Had to write to tell you that as (my partner) and I were listening in horror and disgust at everything going on in VA yesterday, I immediately thought of you and told (my partner) (we were driving to get kids from camp) "I can't wait to see what Liza posts about this mess". For good or bad, you are my go to for all things racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic. Your wisdom and perspective on such issues is always well informed, thoughtful and so appreciated!"
I thanked him. This note of encouragement helped me breathe easier.
I responded that I didn't really have the bandwidth to craft a response (other than forwarding a news post on social media). And, that I would try to manage something to write in the next day or so.
But, the truth is, friends, What more is there to say?
Really, what more is there to say?
I'm sad, but not shocked. Angry, but not surprised. Hopeless, but not defeated.
As I drove home from my family outing, I tried to think about what I would write, but all I could think about was "which post from the past should I just re-blog."
Because, frankly, I've said what I've needed to say.
Except, this year, I was silenced for it. Not by everyone, but by some.
See, a few months ago I wrote about white supremacy. Which, c'mon, if you've followed my work for a while now, you know that I write about race and racism.
I had attended a conference about education. And, I summed up the things that researchers were presenting. I wrote about how researchers noted that education was built on white supremacy and how, in many existing cases, seeks to uphold white supremacy.
I came to realize that people are only comfortable talking about white supremacy when it has to do with people with torches marching through the streets. Those folks who may be reading this and who publicly attacked me believe that only what we see in Charlottesville is white supremacy. "It's only white supremacy if it's the kind we can distance ourselves from."
Well, what about the white supremacy of identifying more children of color as needing "discipline?" What about the white supremacy that keeps our schools, organizations, and companies predominantly white? What about the white supremacy of saying "we value diversity" but spend all one's time and effort taking down the people who are doing the work? What about the white supremacy that silences people of color when they use the words "white supremacy?"
Feel free to talk about all the white supremacy of seeing hundreds of people with tiki torches marching down the streets. Feel free to talk about all of the white supremacy that you can distance yourself from because, "Oh, God, I'm not one of them!" Feel free to make yourselves feel better that you would never publicly yell out "All Lives Matter."
Feel free to get mad that I wrote this -- that "I'm making people uncomfortable" or that my job as a diversity expert is to "build community" or that you are uncomfortable because "maybe I'm mad at racism."
By God. I don't hate white people. I hate white supremacy. I hate this belief and action -- not just perpetrated by people who believe themselves to be white -- that talking about racism is somehow racist.
I could give you a nice list of all the age appropriate ways you could talk to your children. And, I hope for some of you, this is helpful if you are beginning to talk about race and difference.
What did we do in our home? We watched the movie Malcolm X (which our children have seen a number of times). We took some time away from media. We listened to the news the next morning in the car. We talked about how they felt about what they were hearing. We answered their questions. We were honest with how we felt.
We were explicit to remind them that white supremacy is not just marchers with torches in the city square.
That white supremacy is in the air that we breathe.
So, I'm not sure what people were hoping from me. Perhaps some words of encouragement. Perhaps some ways to take action. I assure you, I've written about all of those before because this isn't the first time our country and our world has seen acts of violence nor been impacted by them.
What is left to say, friends?
For me, calling out that white supremacy has actually silenced me has been important.
What has it done to you?