May 26th, 2020
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow: Black. Lives. Matter.
While it is very likely that the present Global Anti-Racist Movement is compounded by the circumstances of the COVID pandemic, it does not make this moment any less urgent. The time is OVERDUE to take a stand. The time is NOW to lead the way to change by setting up a course of accountability. Accountability begins with a statement of where you stand in the fight against racism. It begins with saying "Racism is wrong. No matter what your political, religious, or sociological views are. Whether intentionally or unintentionally complicit in the systemic racism that exists within our communities we irrevocably acknowledge it now and will fight with all our strength to eradicate Racism even as we stumble through creating a brave new anti-racist world."
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou
All Lives don't matter until Black Lives do. It is our responsibility to lift each other up and amplify each other's voices especially now - rather than staying silent. Because silence speaks VOLUMES.
I would like to share this snippet of an earlier conversation which might be useful to share in case a stranger or loved one is feeling White Guilt or White Fragility about their White Privilege... Please feel free to share:
As a fellow privileged white mom of 3 who grew up on Long Island just outside Queens and now lives just outside Boston, I too have always had friends of every race, religion, gender, age, money bracket, and ability. But I have been hearing a completely new narrative from the one I grew up with. When I was growing up, the goal was to be "colorblind". Now I am hearing loud and clear that we must not only SEE color, but we must acknowledge both that we are different AND we are the same. Because when we are colorblind we ERASE Blackness and default back to the White narrative. I also used to think it was better not to engage if people had opinions different than my own with regard to social justice - especially strangers. Just agree to disagree and worry about my own dang self. Now I am hearing loud and clear that that is not enough! We must actively call out and fight against racism* at every opportunity (*NOT White Privilege - which noone is asking you to give up or fight against since it is actually a very useful superpower to have in the fight to end racism.)
When raising my children, it brought tears to my eyes when my 2.5 year old son was looking at the cover of Highlights Magazine which was a picture of four children playing together, one Black, one Hispanic, one Asian, and one White. When my son looked at the picture, he described them as Yellow, Orange, Blue, and Green - THE COLOR SHIRTS THEY WERE WEARING!!! He did not see race at ALL and it was just breathtaking and beautiful and Utopian. But THAT very moment was actually the same moment that he first experienced his White Privilege and here's why: Black babies have to have their skin color explained to them from the moment they are born. No matter where they live and how many supportive and amazing White and BIPOC friends they have, they need to know - in order to survive - that some people may treat them differently because of their skin color. And ONLY because of their skin color it is more dangerous for them to play with toy guns and wear hooded sweatshirts and walk into a store and go out at night and get pulled over by a cop and put their hands in their pockets, etc.
Racial awareness is in the fabric of the experience of growing up Black in America because when you are Black in America it is a given that there are also White people living in your community, but when you are White in America it is not a given that there are also Black people living in your community.
It makes me very happy to know that your friends have not felt some of the same injustices and microaggressions toward them that so many of my friends have. And I agree with you and your friends that there is clearly not a huge divide... Rather, there has been an overwhelming outpouring of support for (and with) the Black community specifically in the wake of George Floyd's murder which was apparently our breaking point. The protests happening right now around the world make this moment officially the largest civil rights movement in all of history. But in order to end racism we must dismantle and reform the system that created it in the first place. And that's where White Privilege can be our most powerful weapon! I will post a few links in a minute that I have found really helpful.
"White supremacy won't die until White people see it as a White issue they need to solve rather than a Black issue they need to empathize with." - Dwayne Reed
"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." - Maya Angelou
Some useful links (feel free to share):
I have been incredibly moved and inspired by so much of the anti-racist leadership I have seen especially in my local theatre community. In particular, Michael J. Bobbitt and New Repertory Theatre have been creating the foundation and setting the anti-racist standard for the future of theatre and beyond both locally and abroad. I am so proud to be a founding member of the IDEAA committee:
“Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, Anti-Racism, etc. is an ACT OF LOVE – showing love to people who have never been loved by this country. This work is to end a race war, not start one. New Rep aspires to be a predominantly multicultural theatre company because we know that our differences are our greatest strengths. What we all bring to the conversations make the experiences richer and more visceral. These are not just principles or beliefs; they are the fuel that drives everything we do. At New Rep, your uniqueness is revered. Bring all of who you are to the table and come and “play” with us.” - Michael J Bobbitt.
Additionally, I have personally pledged a minimum monthly contribution to every professional theatre company in the greater Boston area who practices actionable accountability toward adopting anti-racist theatre practices.