Shaming is often a way of deflecting from the work you still have to do, a way of framing yourself as a “good ally” and others as “bad.” But allyship isn’t something you are; it’s something you do. It’s a lifelong commitment to fighting for a racially just world.
Holiday, this is hugely important. I see slews of articles shaming people, even one written by a young man of color who was himself shamed by a friend for not posting a black square on what, a Facebook page? this mindlessly simple act that does nothing suddenly means that he isn’t supportive ENOUGH?
I’ve had multiple conversations with folks who knew nothing of this black square movement. However, they are otherwise engaged, sometimes deeply, sometimes for decades and others for a lifetime.
This isn’t a competition, a race to the top of the I AM DOWN WITH THIS mountain top. This is work for life. You don’t get your Instagram shot at the protest march and call it done, dude.
At what point do we sacrifice the very real and difficult work of creating awareness, understanding and cohesive action with competing with and shaming each other over who is more down with the most recent issue?
This is where social media can be problematic. A black square isn’t an action. It’s nothing, really. A deep, hard, difficult conversation, and I’ve had my share lately, with Black folks I love, is action. Writing the police department and voting and discussing these topics with un-woke folks (good luck with that) are actions. They are painful, you can get hurt.
Besides, I fear that this topic, as hot as it is right now, may well get hijacked just like #MeToo, then Covid, now BLM. The Next Big Thing, for which we get to compete for being more down, can just as easily derail current efforts to truly change the conversation about racism in America.
Social media is part of the problem and could be part of the cure. But not if all we are collecting are Instagram shots with the Token Black Friend at the BLM march in June.
Folks aren’t evil for not being part of the conversation up to this point. We’re all party to the crime if we simply discard the Topic of the Month to seem cool when and if another powerful issue rises. And it will. As long as we have this president, it will. He is a master of distraction, which allows the Senate to pass devastating legislation while we are all in an uproar. Laws it will take years to undo, damage that will take generations to repair, if ever.
But those folks who have been part of the conversation for decades, who have worked in these movements, who have dedicated blood sweat and tears to these efforts don’t deserve to be shamed for their quiet efforts, or for not being fashionable enough to put a clap emoji on the right Facebook meme.
If we want to change things, we have to choose something we feel passionately about that we’re willing to make a serious commitment. Not just the latest that got washed up on the endless beach of social issues, like beach glass, attractive enough for a selfie but not compelling enough to goddamned well do something about.
I would rephrase this gently, Holiday, but this is just me. As a wordsmith I would suggest that if we are an ally, then it is what we do. It’s not a fashion, a craze or a fad. Not a popularity contest to get someone a Housekeeping Seal of Approval from their Black friends from whom they might be seeking absolution for having been born white. Folks are missing the point.
As those who share my love for the outdoors can attest, peak-bagging is an unfortunate bastardization of how to be in, love and respect Nature.
Urban Dictionary: Peak bagging
Peak baggers have a mild obsession with collecting as many summit victories over significant named peaks as possible…
Issue-bagging is, to me, the same thing. It’s not about the real work, it’s about the “victory shot” and the list.
I might have just coined a term.
How about you research a list of all the Black massacres that have occurred in America, and ask yourself why they aren’t in our history books, and why Trump planned his ‘Publican hate fest where one of the worst took place?
Meet The Last Surviving Witness To The Tulsa Race Riot Of 1921
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And kindly, if I may, from the article:
In 1945, Hooker became the first African-American woman to join the U.S. Coast Guard. She went on to earn a doctorate degree in psychology and helped form the Tulsa Race Riot Commission in 1997 to investigate the massacre and make a case for reparations. Dr. Hooker is now 103 years old and thought to be the last surviving witness to the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.
If the PhD and Coast Guard references surprised people, if Black excellence surprises folks, with respect, folks, there’s a lot of work to be done.
We will not be free until we stop being surprised by Black and Brown excellence, Black and Brown FEMALE excellence, and all the other daily realities, because they are, that the white male patriarchy ignores, demeans, destroys and diminishes.