I Invite Us All to a Greater Level of Racial Honesty

First, check out this speech:

http://fusion.net/story/229269/deray-mckesson-gay-blacklivesmatter/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=socialshare&utm_content=desktop+top

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.)

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White People Don’t Let White People Spout White Nonsense a.k.a. No Ignorant White Person Left Behind

I think this article “Sensible Responses to White Nonsense,” by Mary C. Joyce is kind of awesome.

Let me explain: Sometimes, I post something on Facebook about race. Sometimes it is someone else’s writing; sometimes it is my own; sometimes a combination. I seem to have the awesomest friends in the world, because when I do share about my feelings and experience about race, my awesome friends (including a high percentage of white friends) seem to listen hard, communicate respectfully, affirm my sharing of my experience or my sharing of the information I’m sharing, add in a useful way to the conversation, and sometimes share what I’ve shared with their friends.

That’s where something strange sometimes happens. I go to their pages where they have shared the same things I have just shared and sometimes I read the most hateful, racist responses to it from their Facebook friends.

I am promptly horrified, super grateful for my own awesome extended community, and unsure what to do next. I really don’t want to engage personally (because, really, racism and toxic racial ignorance is pretty upsetting for me to engage with directly), yet I want the person to be engaged with, rather than censured. Largely, I see my awesome friends engaging with the person far more patiently than I would in that situation.

I then maybe thank the friend for the hard work they’re doing and the friend shrugs it off, like it ain’t nothing and they don’t need a cookie.

Because I have ridiculously awesome friends.

So, this article: provides cogent, clear answers to common comments made by less racially savvy white people. These are generally for white people talking to white people about racism, but could be adapted for the use of POC when talking to white people.

The article uses the term “White nonsense,” as almost a technical term. I like it. It’ll work when calling it typical white supremacist racist bull$&@% won’t help your case.

We need to have ways of talking back, articulately, to the standard white nonsense when we encounter it. But, especially white people talking to other white people. Because white folks aren’t saying to me what they say to other white folks. On the whole, white folks with less racial savvy are more likely to express their white nonsense to their (sometimes secretly more racially savvy) white friends than to me. For which, I am grateful. I’d rather be talking to my white friends than my white friends’ white friends. But, I also kinda feel we need to adopt a no-ignorant-white-person left behind approach to educating our racist friends (and friends of friends).

So, anyway, here’s some talking points. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the greatest hits of white nonsense. There is a near-infinite supply of white nonsense and this only covers a few common themes. Please feel free to share more or better articles on this with me or in the comments or on your own blogs and facebook walls and twitter feeds and community forums.