Dear White People, We Need You. No Time For Picnics
“White people used to have picnics at hangings and at lynchings, bringing their children to watch black bodies suffer and die. We are not far removed from that; it’s just being played out through technology now. And it hurts,” Dr. Monnica Williams, clinical psychologist, and director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville. I read this in the PBS.org article, When black death goes viral, it can trigger PTSD-like trauma. This article struck home with me on so many levels. I had just gotten back from seeing The Birth of a Nation Movie. My nerves were already raw from watching yet another slave movie, this time from the perspective of a slave revolt, with all the countless atrocities imposed upon my ancestors. But then I got home. I had to hear about another black man killed by the police and yet another riot breaking out in the U.S.
The PBS article goes on to quote Dr. Williams. She shared, “that history of racism, passed down through generations of storytelling, can become crippling when combined with personal experiences, including daily microaggressions — subtle, racially-insensitive comments or acts such as a person of color being followed in a store, or having their name mocked or mispronounced by peers.”
Let me tell you; it IS crippling. It does hurt. My people and are in pain. We are feeling nervous, scared and alone. So Dear white people we need your help. We need everyone in the fight with us. We need our brothers and sisters — black, white and brown — in this fight with us.
If you can justify the recent shooting of black men who were NOT suspects and did not pose a threat to the police officers, if you are not outraged over what happened to Terence Crutcher, if your sentence about these recent murders begins with, “but….” then are part of the problem. By the way, to those who are remaining quiet, your silence is deafening, and we can hear you loud and clear.
Dear white people, if all lives matter, please stand in solidarity with us. We won’t be able to fight this war and overcome these instances of overt police brutality alone. Share these stories of those murdered at the hands of overzealous police officers with your friends and family. Get mad. Ask for change from your local and state officials and our federal representatives. Demand independent prosecutors review police shootings. March with us. Share the hashtags. Post on Facebook. Tweet your disgust. Say their names. Have an open conversation about race.
If all the above makes you uncomfortable, check in on your black friends. Ask us how we are doing. Take a temperature in the room. Give your co-worker some extra space. Say a kind word or too. Tell us you sympathize with our pain. Be a source of support. Let us know you are angry and if all else fails, simply listen and feel our suffering.
The next hashtag that may be circulating the Internet could be in protest to my death, killed at the hands of police officers for simply being black. Or it could be that of my nephew, or my sister, or my brother-in-law, or my cousins, or my best friends, or my godson. Will you stand with us? We need you. We need all compassionate, progressive, conscious thought leaders in this fight. I hope I can count on you. Please don’t make a picnic basket and sit on the sidelines. The stakes are too high. My life and the lives of those I love and dare I say, many that you may love are at risk.