Antiracist Allies Appearing

Posted on May 28, 2020


Yesterday I stopped to chat with a friend while I was out on a walk. We talked about the racism and homophobia we see in our own families, and how difficult it is to navigate relationships when some of the people we love deny the full humanity of other people we love.

My family members are white, Black, Indigenous, heterosexual, homosexual, cis gendered, gender non-conforming, Christians, and atheists. All are human.

It’s that simple. All are human. Whatever one’s identities, one should enjoy full human and civil rights.

I’ve been writing and posting antiracist content online since at least as far back as 2012–since Trayvon Martin was murdered. I’ve spent the past two years on a deep dive into the effects of whiteness on high school students over a 30-year period, which I turned into a performance piece for a traveling anti-racist art exhibit. I could go on, but the point I want to make here is that there is rarely a day that passes when I don’t take some antiracist ACTION, whether it’s working on my research, writing, interviewing students or parents, surveying teachers, signing petitions, or contacting legislators.

I have felt such agony as the days, months, and years have passed with little acknowledgement from other white educators. Most teachers, administrators, and school board members I’ve invited to my “Seeing White” performance have been remarkably INCURIOUS as to the racism experienced by the BIPOC high school students.

At times, I have fallen into deep despair over the suffocating white silence. BUT NO MATTER WHAT discomfort I experience, it will never compare to what BIPOC students have suffered–just to get their education.

I continue with antiracist work, as I am committed to do, no matter what the white folks around me do. Often, a passage from the play The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, by Lee and Lawrence, echoes in my mind. In the scene, Thoreau is having a nightmare about the Mexican war in his jail cell. The text reads:

Henry (shouts): Citizens of Concord–

But he is talking to the wind. Frustrated, he casts about for some way to reach the ears of a deaf public. He sees the dangling bell-rope, leaps up to ring it–and though he swings on it with the weight of his whole body, there is no sound whatsoever! THE BELL DOES NOT RING! Stunned, he pulls more frantically. Nothing.

Henry: How do we make a sound? How do we break the silence?

This scene depicts exactly how I have felt for YEARS–since Malice Green was killed by a Detroit police officer during my student teaching semester at East Middle School in Ypsilanti, when I met my first challenge as an antiracist teacher.

However, very recently I’ve noticed that a few of my white friends have started to post anti-racist content online for the very first time. It’s only a handful so far, but it’s a start, and I appreciate them for joining the effort to fight white supremacy and bring racial equality to our communities.

I hope that they will do more than just post antiracist content online. I hope they will take action in their communities to support and enact anti-racist policies, laws, and candidates for public office.

I hope that they will speak up when folks in their family or circle of friends says or does something racist. I do every time, and I’ve been rejected plenty of times for it, but I’d rather be rejected by a racist than fail to do all I can to work for racial justice.

If you are white, I beg of you: make a commitment to Antiracism. Don’t delay.

Whiteness kills people every day in the USA.

PLEASE join me in doing SOMETHING antiracist every day. Let’s work together to make our communities and our world a place with “liberty and justice for ALL.”

Thank you for reading.

Related Links

Equal Rights by Peter Tosh

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Dying of Whitness by Jonathan Metzl

Me and White White Supremacy by Layla Saad

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lisa eddy is a writer, researcher, educator, advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy

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