Things to do.
Things are hectic and overwhelming now on so many different levels – trying to just keep up with what’s coming out of the White House and from 45’s administration on a regular basis is difficult most days. Add in everything else, including trying to survive, just getting out of bed most days can be hard. But it’s so important that we, especially and particularly we as white people, do get out of bed and work against white supremacy and fight for justice and equity.
There are so many different ways in which to continue the fight, to get involved. So much of what’s going on is terrifying and has these immense implications but that just makes it more necessary to do the work. In the wake of what happened in Charlottesville on August 11+12, it’s important that we as white people continue to name white supremacy when we see it and to confront it as well. Being able to name racism and white supremacy goes far deeper than just the KKK or the confederate flag though and it’s important that we really break down how racism fully exists within the US. Not talking about all the ways racism perpetuates, including the ways it does so with “good” white people, further supports it.
Talking about race and white supremacy is a tough but ultimately necessary task that all white people should be doing with other white folks. And we also need to be understanding all the different ways that white supremacy exists, including the ways in which white women have participated in it. We as white folks need to do is to have these tough conversations about white supremacy and we also need to be naming and shaming white supremacists. If you want to understand the ‘alt-right’ and all the different groups involved, read these two articles:
- The Complete List of Racists – Michael Harriot, The Root
- I Studied the Alt-Right So You Don’t Have to – Emily Pothast
As a related side note: I did eventually get around to watching Tina Fey’s response on The Weekend Update (NBC’s summer fill in for Saturday Night Live). It was easy to see the intent behind the response and honestly, it wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be. But it wasn’t great and it does jokingly give folks permission to do nothing in the face of white supremacy.
The entire idea of just stress eating as a form of protest doesn’t seem like an incredibly effective one and a rather easy cop-out. Tina Fey has this immense privilege that could actually be used against oppressive systems. For example, she’s able to reach many other white folks and could be talking about the concrete steps we can and must do in favor of racial justice. The fact that Fey should be using her privilege rather than just eating cake is something that Damon Young recently wrote about.
Bitch Media had a round table of some of their staff to really talk about this response and one of the many amazing points comes from Kate Lesniak, who said that:
“There are lots of white people looking for permission to not take tangible action anywhere it can be found. And you better believe white folks are willing to take comedy as liturgy if it delivers that permission. … Fey’s remark about drag queens still identifying as men when they’re not in drag (which she doesn’t explain) is violence. Most folks don’t take the time to understand how those in the queer community identify and/or express those identities, and so validation on national television that characterizes anything that’s not heteronormative as dangerous or violent—especially when she’s talking specifically about black bodies—is only going to perpetuate violence.”
There are a few other amazing responses to Fey’s response, most of which call out the idea of ‘doing nothing’ in the face of white supremacy and Nazis. Isha Aran, for example, wrote about how Fey’s response is white privilege personified and that we can’t just sit at home doing nothing because “… the last time we let Nazis scream into the empty air, it ended up in a fucking genocide.” Cody Charles also wrote about Fey’s response, saying that the entire thing was unhelpful.
We can’t just sit down and do nothing; we need to stand up against this hate. Instead of just eating sheet cake (because you’re welcome to do that too), there are so many ways we can get involved and really help to bend history towards justice. Some of these things I’ve already mentioned in previous posts over the last couple years but they’re still important things to do.
Some things to do include:
- Protest on and offline
- Become a street medic and/or help organize a street medic training in your area – a street medic is a person with some sort of medical training who attends protests and demonstrations to provide medical care (like first aid) if need be. Street medics have a varying degree of medical training and tend to operate in a less formal manner than EMTs or paramedics.
- Become a legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild – like street medics, legal observers are vital to any protest or demonstration by supporting the legal rights of protesters and often act as independent witnesses of police behavior at demonstrations. However, legal observers are not lawyers.
- Help organize and/or cook community meals for larger demonstrations
- Listen to folks, especially those are most marginalized or affected
- If you’re white like me, have those hard conversations around white supremacy and racism with friends and family
There are so many other ways that we can and should get involved. The list above includes just a few ways to get involved and recently, there are have been many other similar lists of action items. For more potential things to do during this time:
- For our white friends desiring to be allies – Courtney Ariel, Sojourners
- So you want to fight white supremacy – Ijeoma Oluo, The Establishment
- Charlottesille organizers ask you to take these 8 actions – Solidarity Cville
- White people, here are 10 requests from a Black Lives Matter leader – Chanelle Helm, Leo Weekly