What can I as a white person do to support during this time?
Tristen, I’m not sure what I can do as a white person during this time. I am angry at what I’m seeing.
I can’t tell you how many white people, specifically, white women, have been in the multiple DMs that I have over the last 5-days telling me they’re sorry or asking me how they can support Black folks during this time of civil unrest. And I’m done.
I’m done giving free advice to white folks about what they can do to help stop racism. Black folks have been telling you for centuries how to not be assholes and how to teach your children to not be the same. But now, that the country is literally on fire, you’re outraged. Newsflash, there’s historically always been civil unrest in the country when it comes to Black and white people.
I capitalize the ‘B’ in ‘Black’ for a reason.
In 1971, Gil Scott-Heron released a spoken-word piece, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (listen here: https://youtu.be/qGaoXAwl9kw). This piece rhythmically operationalizes the ways in which “the revolution” won’t come to you in the news or on television broadcasts. The revolution would not be televised because the revolution was live. It was happening on the streets, in courtrooms, at the ballot, at the grocery stores, and more from Black people who were on the front lines fighting for justice and equity for themselves but also everyone. The Civil Rights Era of the 1950s-1970s was a stepping stone for all other movements that followed it (the new “feminist” movement, LGBTQ+ movement, disability rights movement…). Scott-Heron calls attention to the way in which society cared about the things they put out in the media. During the Civil Rights Era, America was able to witness first-hand the abuse protestors faced at the hands of law enforcement and local government officials. America watched as protestors were water hosed on full blast and bitten by police K-9 units. America watched as innocent people were beaten with billy clubs by white officers in uniform and who would then take off that uniform at night and put on their other ones…white sheets and hoods and ride through neighborhoods burning down churches and bombing homes of Black activists.
But still. The revolution was live.
Today, I argue, that the revolution WILL be televised and IS televised. The invention of social media has been a gift and a curse to the world. I thank social media for providing us space, like television, did in the ‘50s to the ‘70s, to witness the public lynching and blatant abuse of Black lives due to anti-Blackness and structural racism. Because of social media, the revolution is literally LIVE. How many Facebook Live murders of unarmed Black people? How many videos of white people calling the police on unarmed Black people have we seen because of social media? How many times has social media provided a platform for Black folks who are angry about what’s happening to speak out and call for action with no responses?
HOW MANY TIMES DO POLICE AND WHITE VIGILANTES GET TO CONTINUE TO LIVE THEIR LIVES AFTER THEY TAKE A BLACK ONE?
We literally have all of the information we need in the palm of our hands and yet, white people, you dig in your pocket, find some audacity, and then ask a Black person who is grieving, how you can support us. You are now putting the labor on Black people to do the work for you, for free. When Google is free. When you have the free apps of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on your iPhone or (ew) Android phone. The historical remnants of why asking a Black person to do the work for you is loud and clear. And you’re going to have to pay me from now on to continue to give you the answers. No longer will I respond, for free, to Facebook messages asking for information on how you can do better or feel better about what is going on. I will gladly send you the email to my business and we can discuss pricing information. Black women, especially, need to be paid more for the emotional, physical, and spiritual labor we’ve given this country since the beginning.
The revolution is in front of you. The revolution is live.
The revolution is happening live, in front of you.
But not just on social media and television.
The revolution is happening every time you hear a story in your work environments from a Black person who was microagressed or discriminated against in front of you and you sat and did nothing about it. You didn’t say anything about it to the white colleague who caused that harm. You sat and watched as the Black person was blamed for their own victimization.
The revolution is happening every time you defend your white son in the principal’s office after he purposely caused harm to a Black student.
The revolution is happening every time you tell your white children or your Black friend that you “don’t see color”.
White women, the revolution is still happening when you decide that you don’t want to talk to your Black children about the Black side of their family because you don’t have a relationship with their Black father anymore. And you teach them to ultimately erase a part of their history…because you “don’t see color”.
The revolution was happening when we saw Rodney King be beaten by police officers in the 1990s and we saw no justice for him.
The revolution was happening when you justified voting for the celebrity-in-chief because you “wanted to keep your money”.
The revolution is happening across this country as white people are being paid to start the riots at the protests to make Black people look like “savages”. (“I don’t give a damn about them burning down Target. Target should be on the streets with us calling for the justice that our people deserve” – Tamika D. Mallory).
The revolution is happening during COVID-19 work from home when your Black colleagues are still expected to show up to “work from home” with their video cameras on during meetings after another unarmed Black person was harassed or murdered on camera.
The revolution was happening when an office full of white people and a white-presenting Latinx trans-man rallied together to label me as an angry, oversexualized, bully of a Black woman that ultimately led to my termination/resignation from a job two years ago.
So, no. You don’t get to continue to ask Black people how they can help you do better. You’ve had all the answers already, Sway. As this revolution continues to be televised, you figure out how you can be part of the solution.
❤ Queen T
Black men, Black women, Black Queer folx, Black Trans-men and women, Black gender non-conforming folx, Black skateboarders, Black folx who live in low-income neighborhoods, Black wealthy folx, Black essential workers, Black educators, etc. LIVES MATTER.