I have been quiet. Not entirely silent, but quiet. And I have not written in this space. In part, it’s because I’ve been listening, reading, and processing. In part it’s because my voice as a white woman isn’t the one that needs to be heard right now. (It’s Black women. The answer is always follow Black women.) In part it’s because I’m worried about saying the wrong thing, which I know isn’t an excuse, but it is true.
Also, I’ve been a little stuck because I believe that more participation is required than a post that says that black lives matter, that I stand in solidarity with the protesters, that I am recommitting myself to being anti-racist, and that I’m doing my own work on myself. Yes. And, right now, those things must be said, so maybe I should start over.
Black lives matter.
I mourn the loss of George Floyd, and am sick over the way he was killed.
I mourn the loss of Breonna Taylor, and am sick over the way she was killed.
These are two recent deaths, two recent murders, that add two more names to the seemingly endless list of our Black sisters and brothers who have been killed by police.
These are in addition to our Black sisters and brothers who have been terrorized by the police and survived the encounter.
These are in addition to our Black sisters and brothers who were killed by civilians because they were Black.
These are in addition to our Black sisters and brothers who were terrorized by civilians who used the threat of police brutality to exert control over them.
And, in this moment, these are also in addition to the more than 20,000 Black Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19, representing 25% of our country’s deaths from the disease while only representing 13% of our country’s population. (https://www.apmresearchlab.org/covid/deaths-by-race)
Can we possibly be surprised that things are on fire?
I’m mourning, I’m sick, I’m scared, I’m furious. I’m holding a kernel of hope. I’m holding oceans of love.
Our country has been built on white supremacy. It is in our foundation, our heritage, our entire history. It is woven into our stories, our institutions, and our systems. And for many of us who are white, it has been invisible to us for a long time. Certainly the fact that it is as ubiquitous and as commonplace as it is, has been invisible to us. Many white people could point to World War II-era Nazis and say, “That right there was white supremacy.” We could look at pictures of the Klu Klux Klan or modern-day skinheads and say, “Those people are white supremacists.” But could we see white supremacy’s role in the lack of diversity in the school we grew up in? In the way news stories are reported on TV? In reports of wealth divides or achievement gaps? Could we see it in policing or in the war on drugs? Could we see it in our own biases, fears, instincts, decisions? For many of us, the answer is no. For many the answer is, not until recently. For many the answer is, right now, it is now that I’m starting to see.
For me, the answer is not until recently. Racism I’ve seen for a lot longer, but everyday, foundational white supremacy, that has become more and more clear to me in the last four years. I share that to say, I’m not reeling from this as new information right now, and I’m glad that more white people seem to be catching on. And, I was also a late arrival, and I have so much work to do.
Which brings me back here, to The Liberatory Library. This place of my heart, this work of my soul. I promise that I am committed to the personal anti-racist work of reading, listening, learning, donating, speaking up, though this is not the place to write about that. Here, in The Liberatory Library, is where I can do my outside work, which is to be an anti-racist educator, and share that as much as I can. I will continue to share what I read, learn, and live about liberatory education practices, as well as beautiful diverse books for our children to read and to use in our classrooms. I recommit to centering and amplifying Black writers, authors, and educators, and to celebrating Black life and Black joy. I have made mistakes, and I will make more, but I promise I won’t give up.
“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. You have to be anti-racist.”
Writing about practicing literacy and freedom with my small humans.