Black lives matter: I state that unequivocally. Most white people—the ones that I know, which is far from any kind of legitimate statistical sample—have been smart enough to understand that for a variety of reasons, we need to shut up for a change and refrain from saying stupid shit like: “All lives matter.” Even people like my mom, who would not want to be labelled a racist but who also harbors suspicions about the legitimacy of the BLM movement, have begun to catch on. I understand that in the overall scheme of things, apologistic excuses for white people’s ignorance is the sort of rhetoric that is actually suspicious; but she’s my mom, and honestly, I am proud of whatever bit of raised consciousness that she continues to develop at the age of 85. While white people like my mom may not embrace BLM, they have, perhaps under some pressure from their children and grandchildren, begun to understand that it is no longer acceptable for any white person, ever, to say: “All lives matter.”
Yesterday, my mom watched Virginia with a different sense of urgency. She nearly wept. I am not sure how well the events in Charlottesville represent the strength or size of the white supremacist movement in the United States. But I have friends, historians, who would argue that regardless of the strength or perceived strength of white supremacist ideology, its existence and continued articulation is extremely dangerous. I believe them. For me, it is axiomatic that institutionalized violence against people of color has been an ongoing war for centuries in this country, and further, that every white person in this country must act to end this war.
Right now, for me, this means many of the things that have already been published on how to be an ally. Listen. Take to the streets. Educate oneself about the nauseating history of racism. Learn as much as you can about the contributions made to American culture by people of color. And–one of my most beloved direct-action strategies–educate other white people about all of the above and more.
There is so much to say, and doubtless those thoughts will find their way into other posts. There are actions I need to take, and they will unfold in the days ahead. Today, and specifically at this very moment, I feel an urgent need to simply say, over and over, in any context I am given or in any forum in which I am privileged to speak: Black Lives Matter. Period.