My book club read Antoine de St Exupéry’s Night Flight this month, and as I hurried to finish the book last night, I was struck by this quote:
“Even though human life may be the most precious thing on earth, we always behave as if there were something of higher value than human life.”
The narrator was talking about a pilot, lost to the skies, the value of his life – or any individual life – held in balance opposite the value of his cargo – but this reflection runs parallel to so much of what’s happening in our country this week – a vocal, visible, occasionally violent acknowledgement that for far too long, Black lives have been treated as less valuable than property (unless those Black lives actually were property).
A place to start is by saying the words: Black Lives Matter.
As a white person raised in a white family in a white neighborhood, a white church, and white schools, it is safe to say that I have a lifetime of deeply ingrained white supremacy to unlearn. In America, but particularly as a white people in America, white supremacy is inseparable from the streets we walk, the food we eat, the laws we follow, the air we breathe. There is nothing that we do that is not informed by white supremacy, and the sooner we realize this, the sooner we can start the difficult and necessary work of becoming anti-racist.
A place to start is by saying the words: I am racist. I want to become anti-racist.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably been overwhelmed with information about things to do, books to read, or places to give. Here are a few things that have been meaningful for me:
- Seeing White: White supremacy treats whiteness as the default. Season 2 of the terrific Scene on Radio podcast turns a critical lens onto that assertion.
- Thick And Other Essays: Tressie McMillan Cottom’s criticism is challenging and wide-ranging, but should be required reading.
- 10 Black-Led Chicago Groups You Can Donate To Now To Make A Difference In Black Lives
Finally, in the interest of sharing information with people who want it (vs people who I think might want it), I’m going to try putting together a little newsletter with links and things. Perhaps you’ll join me?