A few weeks ago, driven by a call to take some kind of concrete action in our community, a robust group of us gathered outside in a physically-distanced circle. All of us present to a much-needed conversation with two hard and ugly words at the center: Genocide and Slavery.
We were all asking some version of: What can we do? What is our responsibility?
On the agenda? Facing the harsh reality that We are a nation built upon the intentional destruction, dehumanization and oppression of our fellow humans. We must know that for over 400 years now our main tactic as white people and people trained to be white has been to look away.
Truth be told, we have a long way to go. Truth be told, we still hope we can “let’s just let the past be the past” away this ugly history. Truth be told, we want everyone to be nice and move on. Truth be told, we still cannot fathom what it is to be in constant emotional, physical and spiritual danger, to have our bodies disposable and despised the way our Native Indigenous and Black, stolen-from-their-homeland friends and neighbors are. Truth be told, empathy is a skill we must build and too many of us think we do not need to participate in this conversation. At this time in history, fragility is a choice.
It’s time to listen, to read, to dismantle our own ignorance and to stand for safety and justice for every human. Do not look away.
I recommend all of these for different reasons, and of course there are so many more out there. These were not easy to read, so much of the contents hard to swallow. Join me and hear what these humans are saying, take it in, make way for a harder storyline than the one you want to tell yourself.
- When and Where We Feel Safe by Kokayi Nosakhere
- Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib
- The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- A Rap on Race by James Baldwin and Margaret Mead
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- White Rage by Carol Anderson
PS—When and Where We Feel Safe‘s author, Kokayi Nosakhere, is an activist local to me who teaches in the Rogue Valley. You can find him on Facebook here for more information on events.