I Invite Us All to a Greater Level of Racial Honesty

First, check out this speech:


Then, read the rest of this post:

In the past year or two, I have been, as DeRay McKesson says in this speech, “coming out of the quiet.”

I have joked often about how I’m “coming out as Black,” and it’s more than a joke. I have been challenging myself to speak up and speak out about racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia as I see them, experience them, and/or as the have affected me and others. But, particularly, I have been finding my voice as a Black person to name issues of race as they arise in my life, in my history, in my life circumstances, and within the world.

The taboo against naming, acknowledging, and dealing with matters of race in this country is profound. Just naming my own truth, my own experience of the subtle and profound racialized experiences I am having and witnessing on any given day is a radical act. It is terrifying. Yet, the more I do it, the easier it becomes. I feel my strength and my power and my vitality growing to overshadow the fear of harm coming to me (in any of the innumerable ways that harm can come, from social/professional censure to incarceration to assassination a.k.a. “suicide in police custody”).

I have been moved and inspired and emboldened by activists in the #BlackLivesMatter  movement to speak out, to protest, to educate, to agitate, and again and again to refuse compliance with the conspiracy of silence that insists that people like me keep our mouths shut in the face of overwhelming and systemic oppression, discrimination, violence, and tyranny.

Not only do #BlackLivesMatter, but #BlackVoicesMatter, #BlackStoriesMatter, #BlackTruthMatters.

I may not be able to change systemic racism all by myself, but I can change the volume setting on my own voice. I can take my voice off of mute. I can project it. I can add my voice to the chorus of people speaking up.

Whether or not anyone else listens to me, *I* listen to me speaking up on my own behalf and on behalf of my own Blackness and it strengthens and empowers me. Some part of my soul that was dying due to voicelessness comes alive again and grows strong.

But, there is power in numbers. I want to invite us all to a greater level of #RacialHonesty. The invitation is for those of us whose voices have been more silenced in this country on the basis of race to acknowledge our racial experience (to the degree that we safely and healthily can) and for those whose stories and voices are privileged in this country on the basis of race to be more honest about what they do not know about the experience of people of color. It requires bravery on all sides. The more people of color who bravely speak up about their racial truth and the more white folks who bravely (and with cultural humility) listen, learn, and ally with us, the more change is possible.

Let us all come out of the quiet.

(P.S. Do actually listen to the speech DeRay McKesson gives here. It’s good.)


I Feel Stronger For Offering What Resistance I Can

I am feeling fierce today.

Yesterday, I gathered with people of color at EBMC to mourn and grieve and share about the impact of the various forms of oppression that affect our various peoples. It was healing to be able to be in community about what for many of us is often a very private despair.

Then, I went home and found what I hope were creative and constructive ways to channel my rage and my anguish. I wrote and I read and I shared and I discussed and I wrote, some more, my heart pounding in my chest. I have been so impressed by the (especially Black) writers and journalists who are writing about the day after day racial violence that is taking place in this country, while, no doubt, managing their own anger, grief, pain, frustration, and fear. I wanted to join them in solidarity and add my voice to the chorus.

I didn’t account for how empowering it is just to speak my truth about what is so often unspoken, to name what is too often omitted, to resist silence and complicity. Whether or not anything ever changes because people listen to what I say or read what I write – *I* change because I speak it. I change because I write it. I feel stronger for offering what resistance I can. I allow the rage to flow out of me as offerings of truth and resistance. It leaves in its place strength, determination, and vitality.

I go forth into my life, turning my attention to enjoying and celebrating my glorious black life, in honor of all of those who have lost their own black lives or who have lost the glory of their own black lives due to imprisonment. I know that tomorrow, it could be me in the headlines. It could be me killed by the police or by a white supremacist vigilante. This is not happening somewhere else. I know that tomorrow, it could be me.

Best to enjoy this life while I can.

#TomorrowItCouldBeMe #BlackLivesMatter #BlackSpring