|Embrace the uncomfortable truth on race and the change it will bring|
|Challenge ignorance, fight for justice|
|Published Saturday, June 20, 2020 6:09 pm|
|Tiffany Capers is executive director of Crossroads Corporation and former Charlotte Post Foundation board member.|
Back in 2014, when The Charlotte Post Foundation launched Black Lives Matter Charlotte, they wanted to create a space for black people to have a discussion with black people about issues facing black people.
Not that black people were solely responsible for addressing the issues that disproportionately affect us; we were interested in changing the narrative: Fix the systems and not people. The Post launched BLMC in solidarity with the national movement because “Black Lives Matter” is a truth, a declaration, a clarion call—it was then; it is still so today.
Recent events challenging that truth are not a new reality. We’ve been here. We live here. We have seen images of violence against black people that made us gasp and act out of guilt and shame. These are fleeting motivators. They don’t create lasting change. They haven’t in the past and the past is prologue. For all the multi-racial, multi-generational marches, protests, walks and riots we’ve seen, we also already see the mockery and the weaponization of George Floyd’s death.
In the same way we witnessed George’s death, we also witnessed Derek blithely take it. As the story unfolds, we are learning that George and Derek knew one another. George was begging for a man who probably saw him on a regular basis for life, for a chance, for an opportunity. Perhaps, the problem is that Derek never saw him--as equal. So, this is not a moment for blind hope. Not seeing clearly is never helpful when it comes to matters of race.
Many who are feeling hopeful are unsure what to do. Many who are feeling hopeful don’t recognize or can’t articulate what’s really wrong. If you are trusting the “this feels different” of this moment and sitting in the relative comfort of your race, your social economic status, your position, your title, your salary, your age, your ZIP code, your education, here’s what you might consider instead:
Fight ignorance while seeking justice. James Baldwin once said, “It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” This moment will require well-intentioned, well-informed white people. Why? White people overwhelmingly still design and uphold the structures and make the rules and lead the organizations and control the resources and occupy the positions and hold the supremacy and raise the next generation of white children and claim the obliviousness and make concessions and want the grace and acceptance that incubates the marginalization, dehumanization and oppression of black people.
Embrace courageous discomfort. Don’t just feel uncomfortable with “issues” and “situations.” Don’t just “really listening” and “try to understand.” Don’t say all the “woke” words. Don’t look for easy solutions and celebrate superficial progress. Seek discomfort. Examine the dissonance between your values and beliefs on justice, equity and inclusion and the actions, systems and structures you endorse, overlook—or worse, perpetuate—that are oppressive and marginalizing. Examine all the spaces you occupy.
Reject emotional and performative allyship. Become actively antiracist. Have a conversation about racial oppression with people you know, which may be more powerful than marching with people you don’t. Amplify the voices of the unheard. Provide space rather than occupy it.
Tiffany Capers is executive director of Crossroads Corporation and former Charlotte Post Foundation board member.
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