Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Black Lives Matter

Our Commitment to Black Lives Matter | Planned Parenthood ...

I thought I'd write today to state my support for Black Lives Matter and say a little bit about what I've been doing to support Black lives lately.

A bit of background--in February, I was lucky enough to travel to Florida to visit with my BFF Sylvia and we were able to tack on some side trips to Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina.  Both cities were lovely and I was so happy to be there.  I took several house tours and thought a lot about the lives of the enslaved men and women (and children) who made all the wealth and beauty of the South possible.  I returned to my normal life having a real sense of wanting to support the Black community somehow, but, other than reading more Black authors, I didn't move forward.

After the murder of George Floyd in May, there was increased national attention to the systemic racism that Black people have to navigate every single day of their lives and I was exposed to a lot more resources and ideas for how I can help.  I've been contemplating my white privilege, and trying to educate myself more about how white supremacy is something I've benefitted from without even knowing or thinking about it.  I want to be an ally and at the same time I'm a very shy/fearful/not well spoken/non-articulate person and I recognize that I've fallen short of being a true ally.  But now, more recently, I've been trying to at least make a difference in small ways, and I've progressed beyond the point where I was in February, when I just had a vague sense of wanting to help but wasn't really doing anything.

When resources were flying around Instagram, I started making notes of what I was doing so I could keep track and refer back to them to track my progress.  One of the first things I did (which I honestly should have been doing before) was set up recurring small donations to several organizations.  I specifically signed up for recurring donations that will go on forever, not just right now in a "moment."  The organizations I chose are NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Equal Justice Initiative, The Loveland Foundation, and the ACLU.  I also made a number of one time donations to other organizations (bail funds, Go Fund Me campaigns, etc.)   It's also important to support Black creatives and writers, so I signed up to support  LaTonya Yvette monthly on her Patreon.  I'm learning more about how it benefits everyone to donate directly to writers rather than have them rely entirely on ad revenue--ads by definition are designed to promote dissatisfaction with ourselves and excessive spending.  I'm purchasing more books (full price from locally owned or Black owned bookstores, no Amazon) by Black authors (fiction) and also reading a non-fiction history of racism in America "Stamped from the Beginning" by Ibram X. Kendi, which is excellent but I'm reading it slowly because history is a bit slower/harder for me to fathom.  

On the consumeristic side of things, I'm supporting more Black owned businesses.  In particular, Two Days Off (a clothing brand, I bought 2 dresses and they are excellent), Aliya Wanek (I bought one of her sweatshirts and it is excellent), Tree Fairfax (I bought a black crossbody bag--it is stiff and sturdy and I love it but it will be even better over time when it softens), and also I bought two Luv Scrubs (also really enjoying this product).  I'm trying to be mindful in general of where I spend my dollar and have sworn off Amazon and Whole Foods (and Audible and Zappos) and am supporting smaller brands in general and Black owned brands in particular.

I'm making one time donations, signing petitions, and making a few select phone calls (regarding phonecalls, I suck at them and they are hard for me, so that will be an area of growth over time), and I always vote.  I've bookmarked a number of podcasts to delve more into the topic of racism and white privilege, but so far, since I'm not working and don't commute right now, I haven't listened to them.  

One more fun thing:  I donated $100 to "Clear the Shelves for Chicago Students" which is an organization that provides books to Black Chicago kids/teens for free.   The neat thing about it is that the kids can go shopping in the Black owned/Woman owned Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago and choose anything to their liking.  It's a wonderful organization.  I heard about it on  Caroline Moss's podcast,(Gee Thanks, Just Bought it) episode 28, with Danni Mullen, which I highly recommend you listen to--it's a great episode.  Danni Mullen is the owner Semicolon Bookstore and I just loved hearing her talk about it and the Clear the Shelves project.  

I've been told that as a white woman, if I'm not speaking up about these issues then I'm part of the problem.  I've come to see that not talking about it, or just thinking and processing it on my own quietly, is a privilege.  I know I can and should be doing more.  Just wanted to share where I'm at with this journey--it's inadequate and imperfect, but I intend to continue to grow in this area.    Sending love to you all and out into the universe today.  

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