|My inspiration: Black Lives Matter activist Janee (say "Jahnay")|
Two events inspired this post:
1) The sickening video of police officer Derek Chauvin slowly crushing the life out of a handcuffed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck. I've seen that look before on the face of a hunter crouching over a mortally wounded deer, waiting patiently for it to die. But how could this be happening to a human?
2) The relentless determination of a local Black Lives Matter activist named Janee (pronounced "Jahnay"). Day after day, week after week, despite having two jobs, she makes time to show up on a busy local street corner, sometimes with her comrades, sometimes all alone. She holds a sign that says simply, "Be anti-racist." Drivers passing by honk their horns in support. At first "be anti-racist" seemed to me a rather understated admonition. But as I would come to learn, it is meant to emphasize action, rather than merely holding good thoughts.
Passing Janee on this street corner every day on my cardio walk, I shared brief conversations with her. I encouraged her activism and expressed my support in spirit, which she welcomed. Then one day she suggested I check out the book: "White Fragility..." I Googled it and began watching YouTube videos with the author and others explaining the concept. At first I found it to be abstract and difficult to relate to. And I told myself this surely didn't apply to me. But eventually something shifted and I absorbed this powerful truth: For white folks, simply being "not racist" is next to useless... In fact, it can be an impediment to true racial justice. What really matters is that we "be anti-racist." The former ("not racist") is a benign state of being. The latter ("be anti-racist") is all about taking action -- changing the status quo that has allowed America's white supremacy to manifest in subtle, and not so subtle, forms for over 400 years.
But talk is cheap. Words are easy. At this important moment in our history I want to share some specific, observable actions we can all take to help change this. The 4-step "To-Do" list below is inspired by my journey along Janee's suggested path to "be anti-racist." I know I'll be doubling back and repeating some of these as I try to grow into a new consciousness. In the meantime, I hope they help inspire you to start on your own path to "be anti-racist."