Note: the following went out to my newsletter subscribers, but I am posting it here.
We’re being jolted awake, can you feel it?
Between the pandemic keeping us physically apart from each other, forcing us to adapt and pivot our everyday lives, to the massive outpouring of protests in the streets all across the United States and globally against police brutality and the repeatedly fucked up systemic killing of Black people, there is no going back.
We are living in a new normal and it’s time to embrace that we need to roll up our sleeves and do the work to dismantle what bell hooks describes as a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. An apt descriptor of the culture we are living in and let’s be real it’s nothing new to Black people and people of color. They have been dealing with this shit for decades upon decades.
Many white people are just now opening their eyes to new levels of awareness. I am no different; while I’ve been involved in social justice work all my life and critical of our societal norms, the last few weeks I have become hugely aware of my privilege, how deeply corrupt our system really is and that there is a fuck ton of undoing to do. So much history has been buried. There is much I don’t know and understand and it’s time to start doing something about that. Frankly, I feel duped and am enraged.
Our country was built for white people. We are the United States of America and we need to recognize our violent and colonizing past and make it right. It’s clear we need a do-over in so many systems: education, healthcare, political, social, economic, need I go on? Dismantling white supremacy at the root of all this is the most important work we can be doing in my opinion, right now, on an interpersonal and macro level.
White people reading this, it’s going to take all of us, doing everything we can to actively be antiracist. This includes a lot of different things, such as really seeking out and listening to the lived experiences of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) understanding terms like white fragility and microaggressions and white rage and signing up for paid trainings led by BIPOC. Practicing this work in a contained and well-facilitated environment can be healing and very helpful to integrate these new responses into our bodies, plus give us time to think about what we would say or do in a certain situation. In real life, we don’t get that opportunity, we usually are faced with something unexpectedly and wish we would have responded differently in retrospect. Trainings can help close that gap.
I just took one through Resolutions NW here in Portland called “Am I Karen?” And it was insightful. I learned about interrupting racism interpersonally and know if I’m in a conversation with someone and a comment doesn’t sit well, to speak up and draw my line. I learned to forgo nice and get to the heart of the racist thing happening in the moment. You would think this is a given, but it’s not. I won’t go into the various conditioning I’ve had, but it doesn’t include this basic element.
We can all say we aren’t racist, but does that make us antiracist? No.
We have to take action and address the racism as it comes up, de-centering the guilty white person’s emotions and thinking about our goal for racial justice in that moment. And on the flip side, if we say something racist (which is likely because we are indoctrinated this way) and someone calls us on it, it’s our job to stay cool, listen, not get defensive and try to take the ego out of it. We are being given feedback to help ourselves and humankind, so let’s listen, take it in and do better next time.
Yep, this is the work. And like people are saying, this is a marathon, not a race. So let’s breathe into it and get comfortable with being really uncomfortable. Our white supremacist system doesn’t want us talking about this. It would rather us stay silent and in fear. Immobilized. It wants to keep us separated from each other. We can do better. We must do better.
And how we show up in this is going to look differently for everybody. That’s OK. We need everybody. Figure out what that looks like for you and take some risks. Everyone. Can. Do. Something.
You will fuck up.
I will fuck up.
It’s already happened before and it’s the reality of addressing something as covert and overt as racism. Realize we are dismantling an oppressive system and though many of us (yes, white people, I’m talking to you) have been asleep and complicit in the system, it’s built that way. We were conditioned to fall prey to this. And we also benefit from the privilege we automatically get because of our skin color. But we’re shaking ourselves awake now. We’re coming into consciousness. It’s never too late for change and to join the movement for human rights.
This is a critical moment. We are on the eve of a major election. Many people are realizing just what types of unjust, inequitable, dangerous and violent systems we have been perpetuating. White people and companies and organizations are being forced to deal with their white supremacy, privilege and racism like never before.
There is no looking away from a Black man in police custody with a cop’s knee at his neck.
That image of George Floyd, across our devices, is unforgettable. It is an image that is etched in our collective mind because this violence happens it seems daily to Black people and guilty cops are still on the loose. It must stop.
Accountability is hard to come by. The fight for justice, for civil rights, has been hard won stretching decades. BIPOC are saying they are exhausted, traumatized and outraged. Weary. White people are expressing their own emotions and trying to figure out the best way to do something. Change is needed and it is coming. It’s been a long time coming.
We are forming a critical mass.
If you’re like, whoa, WTF happened to Liz, that’s cool, you can unsubscribe.
But if you are with me, let’s get moving. Let’s educate ourselves.
Look, I know there’s a ton of content out there right now. So many different narratives. So many news outlets pumping out various stories. It’s overwhelming. Take your time as we’re in this for the long haul. Find a variety of perspectives. Be an independent thinker. Keep an open mind.
And read some books from Black authors, listen to Black podcasters, follow Black educators, intellectuals, activists, artists, leaders on social. Flood your feeds with Black life. Buy from Black-owned businesses. And donate. There are people on the ground doing very hard work and we need to support the movement, this much needed social change for Black people and all of humanity.
I know it’s a tough financial time for many because of the pandemic but if you are able, please donate to Black Lives Matter and local and national human rights organizations that are protecting and affirming Black people and their lives. We all have a part.
And if you’re white, talk to other white people. We have privilege. We get to strategize and think about this – Black people are living this reality every day.
This is not business as usual.
How’s it going in your workplace? People wanting to talk? If you’re a leader make space for the conversations and make sure they happen. This is an uncomfortable time and people have a wide range of emotions, but they are also mobilizing in the name of justice. Show your solidarity. Use your voice.
If you are a white person reading this and want to talk about some things, I’m available, send me a message. If you are BIPOC, know I’m with you, here to listen to you, and here to create space and a platform for your voice and lived experience. Reach out anytime.
A few suggestions on where to donate:
Get some other ideas here.
A L S O
It is P R I D E month. I identify as a white queer Jewish cis-femme. I say this out loud for the people in the back because some people assume I’m straight and I’m not. I wanted to clear that up just in case anyone was wondering.
Rhino Girl Media is working on a big media and e-commerce project that I will share soon.
Since the end of February, I’ve been producing a podcast where I talk to a lot of queers (not exclusively) about strength, courage and getting through. It’s called Conversations with Liz Gold and I just released the 15th episode. My guests have been amazing – sharing intimate, vulnerable, honest stories about everything from asking for help to coming into self love to betrayal in business, to working stealth as a trans Latinx woman in corporate, to making pivots, to life in the age of covid-19. Each conversation is its own and it’s been a fun and growthful journey to produce these episodes all on my own.
But I would love a sponsor to help me bring it to the next level! If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the podcast, let me know as you’d be supporting queer independent media and help me continue sharing these stories. I appreciate all the love and feedback I have gotten so far on the episodes and would love more! No seriously, don’t hold back.
Or if you have another idea for a media project in the name of social justice, get in touch. This can look like a variety of things and I am always open to new collaborations and partnerships.
If you are interested in listening to Conversations, you can find it here: https://conversations-with-liz-gold.simplecast.com/
Thank you for taking the time to read this and staying connected with me. I appreciate you.