Memorial Day weekend for some meant taking the space to acknowledge and mourn fellow battle buddies. Memorial Day weekend for Black people meant waking up from what was considered to be “a long weekend of rest” to seeing white people use their power and privilege against Black bodies on more than one occasion. It’s attempting to balance the need to talk about George Floyd and Christian Cooper, while suppressing the pain and fear heard in both of their voices as if they knew death was around the corner.
Death, due to the fact that their skin tones have been weaponized by white people who later apologize and receive a slap on the wrist because their racism is masked in fear and ignorance. Time and time again, Black bodies lie in the streets and the conversations quickly shift to whether or not they deserved to be murdered.
It’s easier to place blame on individuals than it is to do the internal work that’s needed to dismantle systems of injustice. The internal work of identifying how we individually contribute to these inequitable systems. The internal work of recognizing what it means to be white in the United States. The internal work of analyzing how white fear derives from the thought of losing power and privilege and the white guilt that comes with it, while Black people fear losing their lives daily and experience the guilt of not having the energy to speak on another murder.
Diversity Talks was founded because there was a need for this internal work to happen. We must dissect the layers of our identities while acknowledging the complexity of others. We must recognize the need for continuous expansion of cultural knowledge, and we must do so without the fear of sounding ignorant or upsetting the next person. The more time that we spend not acknowledging that individual, institutional and interpersonal racism still exists, people that look like me and our youth will continue to become hashtags. #StopKillingUs
As a Black, same-gender-loving, woman who founded an organization grounded in racial equity, I am working hard to compartmentalize my rage into action. And in doing so, I am actively creating spaces for us to engage in racial equity conversations, while holding the truth that it is not the responsibility of Black people to educate white people on their privilege.
At Diversity Talks, we’ve witnessed these conversations firsthand through our youth-led professional development. We recognize that the work and the conversations can be awkward and uncomfortable. We recognize that becoming culturally proficient is not a linear process. However, we believe that neither of these factors should deter action at the expense of someone’s livelihood.
To that end, we have decided to collaborate with a newly founded organization, PR(iSM) RESISTANCE COALITION to host a two-part webinar series focused on strategies for engaging in racial equity conversations and actionable next steps: White Folks (Part I): We Have to Talk About Race and White Folks (Part II): A Call to Action. Led by a Black, mixed-race woman, PR(iSM) RESISTANCE COALITION specializes in redesigning systems, structures and policies from a diverse, equitable and inclusive lens. Through this collaboration, we hope to provide a virtual space for internal reflection so that we can begin to move the conversation from what it means to be non-racist to one that is focused on being actively anti-racist.
This two-part series not only encourages, but facilitates the internal process of recognizing and examining our positionality in society based on the intersectionality of our identities. Participants will explore the social construct of race and the impact of systemic racism by developing a common language around systems of injustice, and how these systems operate in the context of the United States. By identifying our individual and collective privilege, we position participants to redefine what they may have known racism to be thus far, and to co-create action steps for holding themselves and others accountable.
We invite you and those in your networks to join us. These are the conversations that are long overdue, but which must continue until the message is loud and clear: Stop Killing Us!