Well, the last two weeks have been emotional and intense for me. I was at first saddened by the brutal murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who had already been subdued, by a white police officer, while his colleagues stood by and watched. He repeated again and again that he couldn’t breathe and nobody would listen. He went limp. The people revolted. They responded with righteous anger, with protests, at first in a peaceful way, and they were ridiculed. Then they got more aggressive, and rightly so, because it was, and is, a life and death situation for black people every day, and nobody would listen. The problem isn’t just one bad policeman, the problem is systemic racism in every country, even Great Britain. Looking deeper I saw that it was just history repeating itself.
I feel saddened and heartbroken that even friends of mine deny there is a problem. All lives matter they say. Well of course they do, but how can you say all lives matter when history – ancient and modern alike, shows that black lives, and those of ethnic minorities, clearly don’t. All lives matter they say, it’s not a problem over here they say, slavery was abolished centuries ago they say, it doesn’t affect me, I’m not racist they say, I prefer not to get involved they say, white privilege doesn’t exist anymore they say.
Well, that is wrong and incorrect. Totally. But I get it – I do. It’s hard to recognize what is so embedded in the culturescape that we can’t always see it. There is a popular meme that is doing the rounds on social media that I feel says it all with regards to the all lives matter response:
“If my wife comes to me in obvious pain and asks “do you love me?”, an answer of “I love everyone” would be truthful, but also hurtful and cruel in the moment. If a co – worker comes to me upset and says “My father just died,” a response of “Everybody’s parents die,” would be truthful, but hurtful and cruel in the moment. So when a friend speaks up in a time of obvious pain and hurt and says “Black Lives Matter,” a response of “All lives matter” is truthful. But it’s hurtful and cruel in the moment.” (Doug Williford).
I didn’t understand it at first. I didn’t understand how the world is so cruel to our black and minority ethnicities. But I love humanity, all of it, and I’ve dedicated myself to learning more, with humility. To ask my black friends what they need me to do and how to truly be an ally. I am learning to listen.
Racism, white superiority, systemic racism, and cultural bias affect all of us. We are less then human if we don’t stand up for those who are suffering because of the color of their skin.
As a spiritual person, it is not enough just to pray and meditate. Those actions are to help set ourselves up in order to get in contact with our hearts, with our intuition and Divine knowledge. We all have different abilities, skills, and roles to play. Your heart and soul will tell you how you are supposed to help. When we know what our souls have whispered to us, it is time to take action. This is all a call to action! But we should all dedicate ourselves to learning about the history and experiences of the oppressed, and actions we might unknowingly take on a daily basis that serves to keep them oppressed. Feel uncomfortable? Good – uncomfortable means we are learning and growing.
We are spirit having a human experience. We are soldiers for truth and justice. Won’t you rise up with me and fight the good fight? Let us educate. Let us support it. Let us grow.
To start with, here are some definitions, as I feel like the BLM movement has been misunderstood by some. It is not about condemning white people, it is not stating that only black lives matter. The issue runs deeper than any one of us individually. It is systemic and in future posts, I will explain how. I will share as I learn.
“Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice. Allies understand that it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those from which they may benefit in concrete ways.
Allies commit to reducing their own complicity or collusion in the oppression of those groups and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression.”
- OpenSource Leadership Strategies, “The Dynamic System of Power, Privilege and Oppressions.”
- Center for Assessment and Policy Development.
Black Lives Matter:
“A political movement to address systemic and state violence against African Americans. Per the Black Lives Matter organizers: “In 2013, three radical Black organizers—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters. [Black Lives Matter] members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
Black Lives Matter, “Herstory”
“Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.
- Government policies that explicitly restricted the ability of people to get loans to buy or improve their homes in neighborhoods with high concentrations of African Americans (also known as “red-lining”).
- City sanitation department policies that concentrate trash transfer stations and other environmental hazards disproportionately in communities of color.”
Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building. Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens and Barbara Major. 2005.
“The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely advantage Whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics and entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.
For example, we can see structural racism in the many institutional, cultural and structural factors that contribute to lower life expectancy for African American and Native American men, compared to white men. These include higher exposure to environmental toxins, dangerous jobs and unhealthy housing stock, higher exposure to and more lethal consequences for reacting to violence, stress and racism, lower rates of health care coverage, access and quality of care and systematic refusal by the nation to fix these things. ”
- Structural Racism for the Race and Public Policy Conference, Keith Lawrence, Aspen Institute on Community Change and Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center.
- Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building. Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens and Barbara Major. 2005.
“Refers to the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits, and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally, white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.
Structural White Privilege: A system of white domination that creates and maintains belief systems that make current racial advantages and disadvantages seem normal. The system includes powerful incentives for maintaining white privilege and its consequences and powerful negative consequences for trying to interrupt white privilege or reduce its consequences in meaningful ways. The system includes internal and external manifestations at the individual, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional levels.
- The accumulated and interrelated advantages and disadvantages of white privilege are reflected in racial/ethnic inequities in life expectancy and other health outcomes, income and wealth and other outcomes, in part through different access to opportunities and resources. These differences are maintained in part by denying that these advantages and disadvantages exist at the structural, institutional, cultural, interpersonal, and individual levels and by refusing to redress them or eliminate the systems, policies, practices, cultural norms, and other behaviors and assumptions that maintain them.
- Interpersonal White Privilege: Behavior between people that consciously or unconsciously reflects white superiority or entitlement.
- Cultural White Privilege: A set of dominant cultural assumptions about what is good, normal or appropriate that reflects Western European white world views and dismisses or demonizes other world views.
- Institutional White Privilege: Policies, practices and behaviors of institutions — such as schools, banks, non-profits or the Supreme Court — that have the effect of maintaining or increasing accumulated advantages for those groups currently defined as white, and maintaining or increasing disadvantages for those racial or ethnic groups not defined as white. The ability of institutions to survive and thrive even when their policies, practices, and behaviors maintain, expand or fail to redress accumulated disadvantages and/or inequitable outcomes for people of color.”
- White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women Studies. Peggy McIntosh. 1988.
- Transforming White Privilege: A 21st Century Leadership Capacity, CAPD, MP Associates, World Trust Educational Services, 2012.
“The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever-present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and “undeserving.” Drawing from critical race theory, the term “white supremacy” also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.”
I hope that starts to make things a little clearer for us all. Using the correct language can help us to discuss the issues of race and discrimination more efficiently and with love, and may help to reduce defensiveness in those we are discussing the issues. It certainly helped in my defensiveness. I’m still learning. Won’t you learn with me? Won’t you stand up with me and with all of those precious black lives?
Make yourself a cuppa, and let’s go!
Much love, and many blessings,
Lucy L XX
Photo Credit: Iamaneducator.com
Racialequitytools.org. 2020. Glossary • Racial Equity Tools. [online] Available at: <https://www.racialequitytools.org/glossary#white-supremacy> [Accessed 11 June 2020].
Williford, D., 2020. M.J. Love. [online] Facebook.com. Available at: <https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10222713907704588&set=a.2039420233395&type=3&theater> [Accessed 11 June 2020].