Dear Jamil Ragland,
Thank you for your op-ed, which echoed so beautifully and succinctly many of the emotions and thoughts I have been experiencing – for years – and particularly in the last two days. And I am white, so it cannot compare to your own experience. I encourage anyone reading this to click the link and read Mr. Ragland’s piece, if you haven’t already.
Your question – “Why am I writing this?” – can be heard in another way as well: Why are you as a person of color writing this? Why aren’t we hearing outrage, RAGE, power, compassion, despair, and ACTION and VOICE from more WHITE people?
Those of us who are white are the ones that should be doing the work, here and now, to protest and challenge the absolute moral, legal, ethical and spiritual abominations that continue to take place every day against black and brown people.
How do I sit in my living room, watching a video of a real-life murder take place in front of me (George Floyd’s murder), with my children, ages 15 and 19, sitting in the same living room (and living in the same world) and NOT DO ANYTHING?! NOT SAY ANYTHING?! How am I not an accomplice to any of these murders if I simply feel 10 minutes of despair and then DO NOTHING? Do I turn the news off so as not to have to witness this murder? I simply can’t – my conscience won’t let me, even though my privilege certainly would facilitate a choice to just turn it off.
This is a call I am making and will make again and again to other white humans to STAND UP NOW, FIGHT against and OBSTRUCT racism EVERY CHANCE YOU GET – personally, politically (because the personal is political), every day, individually, collectively, en masse. I want to repeat here the words from Angela Davis that you quoted in your piece:
The government views young black and brown people as actually and potentially the most rebellious elements of this society. And thus the jails and prisons of this society are overflowing with young people of color. Anyone who has seen the streets and ghettos and barrios can already understand how easily a sister or a brother can fall victim to the police who are always there en masse.”
– Angela Davis, “Speech Delivered at the Embassy Auditorium,” – 1972
That was in 1972. And here is another quote from another voice (James A. Johnson) I just read yesterday in an op-ed published by We-Ha.com last year:
“Racism is vicious. It is a learned behavior, built on false premises and fueled by constant cultural reinforcement. We live in a society historically defined by racial boundaries of our own invention. Therefore, we can and should, individually and collectively, change our thinking and behavior.”
This last quote – how many times must it be said? In the next days, weeks and months, I hope to join others in active protest against ongoing racism. To all my white loved ones and associates: it is time to start shouldering the burden and doing the work, which includes taking risks, sacrificing and GETTING ACTIVE AND LOUD. If you have already been doing that, keep on going.
Caroline Loewald Farnham is a clinical social worker and educator living and working in West Hartford, CT.
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