A father not walking his dog unless accompanied by his daughter for fear of how he would be perceived by his white neighbors. A son being coached not to make eye contact with police lest he gets in to trouble. Ordinary black people being hurt or killed while taking part in day to day activities like you and I; sometimes outside their homes and sometimes in the safety of their own homes. These are realities of being black in the USA in 2020. How very sad.
In the aftermath of the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Arbery and scores of others at the hands of police who are supposed to be their guardians, the issue of racism and police brutality has become even more urgent to address.
It’s time to end this over four hundred years of race based discrimination and police brutality. We need to stop treating others differently based on their skin color. We are all the same and we need to treat each other similarly as well.
My doctor brother said “Once the skin is covered and we start surgery, everything looks the same inside and I’m engrossed in fixing what’s broke; the identity of the patient is revealed when the covers come off. Fascinating that a tissue 1-2 mm thick can cause such a huge impact on the human race.”
It’s not enough to provide lip service to this issue by proclaiming black lives matter. As Angela Davis said “in a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.” We need to take specific steps to help move the needle.
Here are a few specific steps you can take:
- If you are ever in a situation where you witness someone mistreating a black person, raise your voice and let the other person know you are an ally of the black person – record the interaction on your phone
- Write to your representative, senator, mayor and governor to ensure they take action to hold the police accountable
- Become active allies of black people by supporting black businesses, authors, bloggers and poets
- Participate in a protest march in your neighborhood or city to support the cause
- Get educated about the issues by reading relevant books and articles – with that education you will be in a better place to take specific action
- If you are in a position of leadership, use that position to push for change in your organization.
One way to become familiar with the issue is to read books written by black authors and books that help educate us on the history of racism in this country. Here is a list you can start with:
- Race Matters by Dr. Cornell West
- Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi
- Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Dr. Beverly Tatum
- Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
- How to be an anti-racist by Ibram X Kendi
- I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou
- I’m still here: black dignity in a world made for whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
- So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo
- The bluest eye by Toni Morrison
- The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- White fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin Diangelo
I recently watched a youtube video of Emmanuel Acho titled “Uncomfortable conversations with a black man.” In this video, Emmanuel answers a number of questions white people have asked him and others. These answers are very revealing and address a lot of the misunderstandings people have with why black lives matter. Emmanuel uses good examples to explode the myths around some hardened beliefs. I would encourage you all to watch this video and understand the issues. That my prepare you for your own uncomfortable conversations.
As an Indian immigrant who moved to this country in 1988, made a comfortable life for myself and my family calling Seattle my home, I feel it my responsibility to raise my voice. The civil rights movement of 1965 made it possible for my wife and I to move to this country and build a future for ourselves and our two adult children. My wife and I are proud that our children are strong allies to the black community and push us to pay attention to this important topic as well as take positive anti-racist actions.
In the comments below please let me know if these ideas resonate with your own thinking. What are some other steps you are taking to help eradicate this racial inequity and to help ensure black lives really do matter. Thanks for reading!!