I haven’t had much time to read, and often put down the books I start, but lately I’ve managed to read Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” Trevor Noah’s “Born A Crime,” and Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad.” It was more coincidental that I chose these three back-to-back, but I enjoyed them all very much. They have inspired me on a streak of reading more writing from black and brown authors (another I read is Tommy Orange’s “There There“) rather than what I realize is my usual white white white.
Ben & Jerry’s (yes, ice cream!) came out with a well-thought-out statement about the riotous reaction to George Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis police, and I wholeheartedly agree with their thoughts and suggestions. I also got a nice list of “anti-racism resources for white people” from a friend, which I would like to share here.
Many of us unconsciously enjoy our ignorance (blissful ignorance, they call it) of discomforts suffered by others. Our ignorance, and especially our refusal to listen and learn, allows others’ suffering to grow and spread. This week Trevor Noah talked lucidly about the American (world) social contract which is so unfair to black people. The best we can do is try to be less ignorant about how other people hurt, and why. Obviously we should try to make sure we take no part in hurting others. How are social constructs are stacked in white people’s favor? How to open doors you didn’t realize were shut everywhere around you, ensuring “safe” homogeneity?
Ibram X. Kendi compiled a decade-by-decade reading list covering American racism which I plan to work through, even though I know it won’t be comfortable. Through reading and listening and learning, I realize how deeply racist and white supremacist United States culture is, and I am ashamed. It’s not just bad, it’s really fucking bad. Even without exaggeration it’s a horror story. The best I can do is keep my eyes and ears open, listening to these horrible stories and understanding how I participate and have even benefited from them. Shame on white America.
In case you are a customer of mine and wonder how I spend your money, I have donated 5% of my income in May and June to the local food bank and organizations supporting protesters in Minneapolis, and will continue to do this as long as I have income and so many people do not. Thank you for helping.