I preface this with a disclosure: I am a White ally. As such I am called to hold space for Black bodies to lead and Black voices to speak Truth to Power, and to not fill that space with my Whiteness. But I can take some space for my Witness.
In all of this turmoil, grief, outrage and righteous rage, I have an uneasy feeling that when some folx talk about healing they at some level are essentially asking “how do we as a country get back to ‘normal’?”. But “normal”—policies and politics and policing—that’s the thing that for generations has been broken.
Systemic racism—racism so deeply embedded in the system that many, many White folx are completely unaware of it—is such an overwhelming and aggressive cancer to excise. I will say, speaking for myself only, that the moment I begin to think of myself as the least bit “woke” is the precise moment that I most assuredly am not. And that keeps me uncomfortable. And humble. And eager to do the work in the most effective way possible.
I think if we as a country, and as individuals in this country, are to heal it ought to be with plenty of bumpy and jagged scars. Scars like the kind you can’t look away from. Scars that make it so we can never ignore and never forget. I resist the idea that healing means we paper over the wounds and woundedness. I don’t want to paper over racial inequity and inequality.
I want to eradicate the sources of those wounds, not the wounds themselves. And to do that, I cannot, as a White ally, place my White self in the center. What I can do is listen to and follow Black leadership. My White voice cannot be allowed to drown out Black voices as I declaim what I think or what I believe will make it all better for Black folx. Note here I am not saying White folx can’t have the conversations, and can’t own their own roles in the system. We can and should. What I am saying is that we White folx need to be intentional about putting Black voices first, intentional about opening our ears to listen and to hear the messages, and intentional about how use our hands to do the work set before us.
Do Some Practical Magic
Want to make a difference? Vote. Not only that, help disenfranchised folx vote—participate in voter registration drives and/or volunteer to help provide transportation to the polls. Want to act for social justice now? Check out nationalbailout.org to help with #FreeBlackMamas and fight against pretrial detention of mamas and caregivers. I guarantee you that is a form of practical magic that will transform the life of the recipient and the lives of the people around them.
We can’t look away from these boiling ruptures in our racist society. We can see the poison and it’s past time to excise it.
And I’ve taken up enough space. It’s time for me to return to deep listening and deep learning.