Today is Martin Luther King Day. And February marks Black History Month. This year I want to do more than post a few quotes and Black Lives Matter hashtags. Here are some things I plan to do in the next month. What about you?
Attend a webinar about white privilege
I recognize that I need to listen and learn more about civil rights in this country. So I was excited when the organization Showing Up For Racial Justice listed this webinar as part of its offering. The workshop free and anyone can attend since it’s online; however, it’s specifically for feminists of all genders who experience white privilege. If you’re white, you experience white privilege — something I think we struggle to admit, especially those of us with progressive politics — and “Centering Intersectional Feminism for the Win!” is an interactive workshop that will explore:
- A brief overview of intersectional feminist analysis
- How to apply intersectional feminism to your organizing
- Body based tools for increasing resiliency and decreasing white fragility
- Exploring the relationship between whiteness and gender
- Taking an embodied approach to anti-racist leadership development
I’m hoping it helps me confront my own prejudices with honesty and empowered change, as well as give me tools for having more effective conversations (key word being conversations) with other white people about how to, well, be more fair and aware about making this place better for everyone.
Read some Zora Neale Hurston
I recently read this piece on Shondaland about the writer Zora Neale Hurston, the “patron saint of black women writers,” and realized that I’d never actually read any of her work despite all my English classes, Alice Walker fan-girling, and literary spelunking. I plan to change that in February. It’s literally the least I can do. From the article:
Through the #MeToo movement we’ve read the stories of how calling out sexual harassment and the patriarchy has ruined women’s careers. Similarly, Hurston was shunned and derided by many of her male compatriots in the Harlem Renaissance for creating one of the first strong, black, and sexually aware female protagonists of 20th century American fiction. Criticism from prominent writers like Richard Wright, and white aversion to a strong black female character, initially killed sales of the novel. A few years after publication, it was out of print and Hurston was living in poverty.
Finish watching “I Am Not Your Negro”
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I learned so much in elementary school about the Holocaust. I remember it feeling like a punch to the gut. I can still remember how I felt that fourth grade day when we watched grainy video of decimated, decapitated and starved bodies piled on top of each other, or worse, alive and suffering. It was awful but important.
Why didn’t I, we, learn more about slavery in America? Why was our education about it so sanitized? Why don’t I remember seeing more images beyond just the ones from the Civil Rights Movement? Because we certainly have them, even if they’re not in video form. This photo from the “I Am Not Your Negro” trailer, a documentary about writer James Baldwin, made my blood turn cold. The trailer was the first time I saw it.
Look closer. That’s a child he’s sitting on.
I know the answers. America was a hero in WW2. We saved those broken people. They’re easier to look at, to stomach. But our history of slavery, pre and post Civil War? Those truths are harder to swallow. Especially because its effects are still so very real today.
I want to learn more. I want to face the truth.
As Baldwin says:
“If any white man in the world says ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ the entire white world applauds. But if a black man says exactly the same thing he is judged a criminal and treated like one and everything possible is done to make an example of this bad N**** so there won’t be anymore like him.”
It’s on your PBS Roku app. Watch it.
Celebrate 2/2 Tupac Day
In this week’s episode of FemComPod, Justin and I picked people we think we should have national holidays (or at least more statues) for. I picked Harriet Tubman. He picked Tupac. So we made up our own holiday. Feb. 2 will now be Tupac day in the Mantey Golak apartment.
Support black businesses
And take other steps to exist in my city and neighborhood without negatively impacting the people who have lived here a lot longer.