A couple of years ago, at a Christmas dinner with my extended family, I apologized to my great-aunt for bringing up politics at Christmas. She gave me a stern look and said something like, we can’t afford to not talk about politics, they’re life and death. She’s a feminist, and for decades she ran a non-profit that helped women get jobs with flexible hours. I’m sad I don’t remember her exact words, because they humbled me.
Avoiding politics with family is like not looking at the homeless person on the street. They don’t stop existing, and someone’s life is on the line.
I respect that people have differences of opinion, different values, and different views of how the world should work. I respect that people don’t like each other, I respect that people feel afraid and want safety.
I don’t respect the attempt to disenfranchise American citizens, or the perspective that property damage is worse than murder. I don’t respect the idea that some lives have less value than others. I don’t respect anyone who would take away the human rights of people they despise.
Biden won. Halle-fucking-lujah. He knows how to speak with dignity, and how to acknowledge the humanity and value in everyone around him.
But he’s also not good enough. Is he going to end the concentration camps at the border? Is he going to defund the police? Is he going to make sure that every disenfranchised citizen is re-enfranchised? Is he going to make sure that everyone with a uterus has access to legal abortions? Is he going to stop pandering to the obstructive right? Probably not.
Politics isn’t about values, opinions, or perspectives. Politics is about human rights, who gets them, and who gets to decide what they are. I’m going to keep talking about them at family gatherings until human rights truly are universal. You should, too.
Black rights are human rights. Until all Black Americans are just as safe walking down the street as me, a white woman, I am not safe either. Until the poorest, least-educated Americans are safe in their own neighborhoods, I am not safe.
Police brutality is not acceptable, under any circumstances. Firing rubber bullets at people’s heads is brutality. Destroying the water and medical supplies of protesters is brutality. Military without identification deployed on the streets of our cities is brutality: with no way to hold individuals accountable, there is no safety.
This isn’t about protecting “innocent Black people”. Even guilty civilians are due civil rights, the Bill of Rights assures that.
Here are some of the things I’m doing to support Black Americans and the ongoing protests:
Reading first-person accounts from Black Americans and protesters.
Listening when people make me aware of my privilege in ways I hadn’t noticed before.
Donating to BLM, bail funds, and local orgs that are coordinating and supporting the protests
Amplifying the news, mostly on social media.
Letting my Black friends and coworkers know that I support them and am available if they need me.
Trying not to put the emotional labor on them of deciding how to respond and what to say. Instead I’ll try to say, “I’m thinking about you, and I’m here if you need me. No need to respond.”
Writing to my elected officials to tell them what I support and what I expect them to support
Taking care of myself when I’m tired or overwhelmed. I can’t help others when I’m worn out. And when I’m able again, I tune back in, because the need isn’t gone.
Resources I’ve benefitted from:
(If you follow me on Facebook, none of this is new.)
This Facebook post offering a range of books, depending on what you already know and what you’re ready to learn next:
This thread describing the history of racial terrorism in America, covering the time white terrorists overthrew the US government:
Daily updates on what’s going on in American from Heather Cox Richardson, that are detailed and well-researched, with sources.