When recent racist events happen – like the tragedies of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd happen – I don’t know how to write about them. Sitting safely in my bubble, I’m horrified and ashamed. I turn away from the videos, unable to watch – the truest evidence of my privilege – and can only imagine the deep psychological impression that these videos must have on the Black Americans who have seen them. And yet these videos amplify the evidence and justifiably enrage a country, including myself. It’s a sad fact that it takes these types of videos to mobilize such a large response.
I started writing this on Wednesday, but was having a hard time “finding the right words/tone” that didn’t feel like pure virtue signaling or entirely defeated. Our Friday design post got pushed due to client’s approval process, so we scheduled a post already written about “Brian’s Happy Escapism Music,” a post aimed at highlighting upbeat music to help lift a little bit of the quarantine blues. So yesterday morning it went up per usual at 1am. I woke up at 6am, and realized my idiotic mistake, scrambled for my laptop and hit “un-publish” but not before I read the comments where I (rightfully) got called out. The fact that that post went up in the first place did nothing except highlight to me my true privilege – the ability to escape.
One thing I can do is look at myself, ask myself hard questions, and reflect on what I’m doing or not doing that is contributing to racism. Human beings, White human beings especially, can be so cruel. We’ve really f*cked this. Shame on us. To let fear, faux masculinity, posturing, poor modeling, bad education, violence and latent or overt racism ruin your brain enough to kill a man simply by not removing your knee? I’m feeling like we have a pretty terrible government in general if “protection” is their main function. What a fail, on so many fronts.
The powers that be, such as our government, aren’t doing enough – likely because they too are privileged, old, and White to feel an imminent threat to themselves. It’s just like how a lot of politicians don’t really care about public education – They have no vested interest in the success of the education system because their children (or grandchildren) don’t attend public schools. They lack the motivation, the true drive, to make it their cause. Similarly, White politicians (and White Americans as a whole) have rarely taken it upon themselves to take actions that would truly lead to dismantling racism in America. In case I haven’t made it clear, I am not exempt from this.
I am not a cop or politician. I am an enraged, disgusted, and full of shame citizen. I don’t know how to write about macrame or soup today. I don’t feel like it at all. But I do have a platform, and a responsibility to use that platform to amplify causes like anti-racism.
Ijeoma Oluo writes “Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” Cup of Jo wrote a great article about this on Thursday that I found so helpful, filled with a lot of great resources.
In an effort to take steps forward in this moment, my team and I pulled together a few simple ways to take action today (and we’re always open to adding more if you have suggestions to add in the comments):
- Use your technology – Sign the petition at www.justiceforbigfloyd.com
- Use your voice – Call 612-324-4499 and demand that the county attorney Michael Freeman hold ALL four police officers accountable for the death of George Floyd – update, he’s charged with murder which shows progress in the perception of these cases, but there is still more action needed.
- If you’re able, use your financial privilege – Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund: www.minnesotafreedomfund.org/donate.
We’re not experts on anti-racism, but we wanted more so we pulled together a few other ideas from some internet research and social media accounts we follow –
1.) Read about Black history and read literature by Black authors. Do it often. Become educated so when you do talk to others about the racism in our society and government, you are armed with facts and data to support your arguments about institutionalized racism in America. Here’s a great list to start with.
2.) Look around and see what changes you can make in your own industry to be more inclusive. The interior design world, for example, is a heavily White-dominated industry. We are going to be doing more work to actively support, amplify, and bring attention to Black designers and makers, and will be making a concerted effort to bring different and diverse voices and experiences to this blog.
3.) Listen to Black people and their experiences. Don’t rely on your Black friends or family to answer your questions about race (unless they openly share with you, or have expressed their willingness to be a resource for you). Instead, use social media and the internet to seek our articles, videos, and podcasts produced by Black artists, activists, and journalists who have already done the emotional labor of sharing their experiences. This is great Instagram account to start with, and the podcast 1619 by The New York Times was an incredible listen.
4.) Use your financial privilege, if you’re able, to seek out and buy from Black-owned businesses. Tomorrow we’re going to share a few that we know of, but would always love to hear of more that we can help bring attention to.
5.) Use your vote to help put Black people and other POC in higher positions of power and demand reparations from your local, state, and national governments.
Edit: Originally in this morning’s post we had suggested White Fragility. I’ve listened to author Robin Diangelo on a couple of podcasts, but need to read the book. However, it was brought to our attention via Instagram that we should be recommending a book written by a Black author. In recognition of our blind spot here, we’ve amended this post to instead recommend How To Be Antiracist. Thank you to everyone who continues to use their energy in order to share their perspectives with us xx
Here are some other great ideas that we love:
I can’t do anything to bring back the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, or George Floyd or any of the MANY OTHERS, but if I truly have any sort of voice or influence, then being ANTI-racist is what I want to share on my platforms. Admitting privilege, and feeling disturbed and enraged isn’t enough. It’s long past time for me, and all of us who haven’t yet joined this fight, to be actively anti-racist. Let’s do more. Black Lives Matter.
If you have other ideas or ways to contribute, help, causes to donate to, honestly any good suggestions to do or not do, please leave them in the comments. Even if it’s a good inspiring quote. We’d love to read and I know we aren’t the only ones. xx
**P.S. My team is pulling together posts highlighting black American run small businesses in the design/lifestyle/fashion world. If you have any you would like to recommend, please do so in the comments.