By Jo Longley
I didn’t learn about Juneteenth until three years ago, when I worked for a black-owned marketing firm. Lots of other white people are only just learning about it as a holiday and a cause for celebration: June 19th, 1865 was the day the last enslaved black people were set free.
Trump initially planned to launch his presidential campaign by holding a rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa, Oklahoma—the sight of the Tulsa Race Massacre (an incident that has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history”).
On the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Trump administration announced their plan to roll back the protections of trans people written into the Affordable Care Act.
Perhaps best said in this tweet:
Then after all this, Trump ran some Facebook ads using a literal Nazi symbol. It’s, uh, pretty obvious at this point what’s going on right? White supremacy, systematic racism, militarizing your police to prey upon your own marginalized citizens. Ya know… fascism?
The muder of George Floyd has acted like a catalyst into the hard left turn we’ve been needing for some time. Protests calling for justice and nationwide defunding of the police have been going strong since May 26th, and with no signs of stopping.
Victories these protest have achieved include the charging of all four officers involved with the murder of George Floyd, the disbanding of the Minneapolis police department, Breonna’s Law passed in Louisville banning the use of no-knock warrants, and several confederate statues have found their place in landfills.
However—Breonna Taylor’s murderers have not been arrested or charged, or even suspended without pay. This week, five black people have been found hanging from trees. Rayshard Brooks was shot while fleeing from the police. Micheal Thomas was shot in his own home.
The thing with a systemic problem is: it takes more than a month of protest to change it. And we white folk who are new to the fight and armed solely with enthusiasm for the cause need to prepare ourselves for what this is actually going to be—a complete dismantling of our current world and our privilege that comes with it.
Celebrate Juneteenth by getting your life reorganized; live in protest of the capitalistic white supremacist system, rather than marching now and going back to “normal” later.
We’ve all been making mass donations to the causes we’ve seen that need help: bail funds, GoFundMes, black-owned businesses in need of help. These are all great! What’s our plan long term?
Take today to sit down with your budget and decide how much you can give monthly.
Ideas for places you can donate:
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
- The Sentencing Project
- Equal Justice Initiative
- Facing History and Ourselves
Seek out local campaigns in your area. Smaller organisations are more likely to be in need of support.
Where you can, buy from black businesses. Where you can’t buy from black businesses, buy ethically.
Research black-owned businesses in your locale, and prioritize buying what you need from them. For me, I’m counting down the days until Keypsake Bath & Beauty Co. restocks their online store.
When there are no black-owned businesses in your community that have what you need, look online.
Where online shopping won’t do (for grocery items most likely) look to co-ops, farmer’s markets, and employee owned companies.
Maybe one of the most important tools in the fight against white supremacy is education. It wasn’t until the George Floyd protests that I learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Rosewood Massacre, the bombing of MOVE, the racist origins of the US prison system, or how COINTELPRO was created to assassinate leaders of the civil rights movement and undermine their efforts.
We also have to get to the root of our own relationship with white supremacy and how it has benefited us, down to the nitty gritty of our day-to-day lives. If we don’t know our history, we’re doomed to fall prey to it. If we don’t critically examine our role in the system of oppression and cut ties with it, we’ll be used as inertial weight keeping it rolling.
Here are lists of media you can source from to begin your self education:
- This List Of Books, Films And Podcasts About Racism Is A Start, Not A Panacea
- Ten “Must Watch” Black History Documentaries
- Black Lives Matter: Movies, TV shows and books on systemic racism
- 18 books on race and white privilege that will show you what’s really happening in America right now
PREPARE TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE
If you believe that white supremacy exists, that because of it you have been given undue privilege in society, and you still want to see it torn to pieces, the logical conclusion is: you will be very, very uncomfortable.
And you should be. We should be. You and I should be. Using white privilege to help dismantle white supremacy will be personally painful, because our privilege is so natural to us it needs to be consistently pointed out to us before we begin to recognize its existence.
White privilege is a tumor we have that’s killing other people, and it’s not going to be easy letting go. White supremacy is white people’s problem. It is our moral duty to deal with it, regardless of how uncomfortable, painful, downright heartbreaking it will be.
Because what we go through facing our privilege won’t hold a candle to what people of color have been through at the hands of it.
HOLD YOUR COMMUNITY ACCOUNTABLE
If your friends aren’t doing the work, ask them why.
If your company doesn’t have black leadership, say something.
If your city council wants to raise the police department budget, tell them no.
Your biggest impact is in the community immediately surrounding you. Get to know your city/township/county governments, and be vocal. Your voice in these arenas is exponentially more likely to be heard and responded to than it is on a national level. Make change in your community. Hold your people responsible.
The protests keep going strong, and change keeps being made daily. I’m so proud of all the people I see fighting for what is right, and saying their names. White people, we need to stay uncomfortable, and keep fighting for change—even when, and especially when, that work moves inward.