Dear Anne Hathaway, Brene Brown, and Elizabeth Gilbert,
I am so grateful that you are speaking out about racism and#NiaWilson.
Beginning by supporting the GoFundMe created by Nia’s family, I am writing because I hope you will do more.
“Nia” means “purpose.” Nia is the fifth principle of Kwanzaa and is celebrated on December 30.
Nia Wilson was a sweet beautiful young woman who had already suffered considerable trauma when her life was brutally snatched away by a white man at the MacArthur BART station on July 22, 2018.
Nia Wilson had confided in her mother that she disliked taking BART because she did not feel safe.
“My baby didn’t deserve this. She hated BART. She was always saying, ‘Mama, I’m scared of BART.’” — Alicia Greyson, Nia Wilson’s mother
Right now, there are millions of young Black women in our country who do not feel safe.
They have grown up barraged non-stop by images of women who look like them being brutalized, almost always without any consequence to the people who harm them, and often because white women feel threatened.
Prominent white women: you have a huge influence in our society.
White women can’t be who we don’t see, and currently there is not a single example of a household name white woman in our society role modeling Antiracism.
As my mentor Catrice M. Jackson points out, there has NEVER been a time in US history when collectively white women have stood up against racism.
The best way you can honor Nia Wilson’s memory is by leading your followers to stand up against racism now.
Please do not shirk this enormous opportunity and responsibility.
The horrific murder of Nia Wilson could become the turning point America desperately needs if you continue on the Antiracism path and encourage your followers to join you.
By opening your heart and mind to listen and learn how your everyday actions harm Black people, actually changing your behavior, and sharing your learnings with your followers and encouraging them to do the same, you could be instrumental in building the community that restores Black people to their original greatness.
That said the Antiracism path is a long and hard one. It’s a lifelong journey that is never over.
Posting is a great beginning and actions speak louder than words.
Three ways I hope you will move forward:
1) Learn from Black and Indigenous women Antiracism educators.
No matter how “good” and “progressive” we think we are, how many Black friends we have, or how many lines we highlighted in “Between theWorld and Me,” white supremacy is deeply engrained in all white Americans from birth, and we must do tremendous work- essentially an exorcism- to get it out.
The most effective teachers are Black and Indigenous women who specialize in this work, and the best way to do this work is live and in person.
It is not fun to confront white women’s long history of being the number one enforcer of white supremacy and the harm you personally have caused.
And for white women in the “feel good about ourselves” industry, the pain of confronting our racism contradicts what you espouse.
However painful it is to confront our racism as white women- it is only a teeny tiny fraction of the pain we have inflicted and continue to inflict — and it’s the only way to learn how not to continue harming.
Catrice M. Jackson specializes in teaching white women about racism. She facilitates workshops in person throughout the United States. She also offers online courses and has written many books. My greatest learning has been with Catrice and I highly recommend working with her to all white women who are serious about Antiracism.
Sweetwater Nannauck is a Native Alaskan woman and Director of Idle No More Washington. I recently took her Fragile No More: Decolonizing Our Activism workshop and it was deeply spiritual and transformational. I can’t stop thinking and talking about it.
I have not personally met Desiree Adaway but follow her online and feel like I have known her forever.
Please contact these women and enroll in their workshops and stay in them when the going gets rough.
In the meantime, here are a few fantastic online resources to get you started:
Age Race Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference by Audre Lorde. You can learn more about Audre Lorde — and make a donation to continue her work- here.
2) Go hard in the battle to #stopKavanaugh.
The most immediate, dire, and long term threat to the safety of young Black women in the United States is 45’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
The Kavanaugh confirmation must be stopped, and white women have both the numbers and the resources to stop it.
White women: will we stand placidly by as we did in 1991 as Anita Hill testified to Clarence Thomas’ sexual harassment and do nothing to prevent his confirmation or will we stand up fight back?
As Steven Thrasher astutely points out “Believing Hill decades ago could have changed access to the ballot and who occupies the White House now.”
What can we do to #StopKavanaugh?
- Gather together with our like-minded friends and organize.
- Get in touch with your local chapters of organizations opposing Kavanaugh and work together, such as Color of Change, MoveOn.org, NAACP, the National Urban League, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Women’s March, Indivisible. They are planning rallies in all 50 states on August 26 to oppose Kavanaugh.
- Educate your family and friends, especially the younger ones, about the impact Kavanaugh would have if confirmed. Urge them to join you.
- Pray, call, write, email, Instagram, tweet and urge our families and friends to do the same. Let’s make #StopKavanaugh trend every day for four months!
- Register to vote and get your friends and family registered too! And make sure you and everyone you know actually vote on Nov. 6.
- Research who your representative is — all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs in the midterm election. Is your senator up for reelection? Is he or she opposed to confirming Kavanaugh? And, if so, how specifically is he or she opposing? Tag your elected officials on pics #WeAreRegisteredAndWatchingYou #StopKavanaugh
- Protest and engage in civil disobedience.
3) Support women of color candidates in the 2018 midterm election.
The most impactful way we can create safety for millions of young Black women in America is to elect women who look like them in the November 2018 midterm election -and in the Presidential election of 2020.
All across the country, there are great Black women running for office. Donate to them, amplify them, and encourage your followers to do the same.
Stacey Abrams is running for Governor of Georgia and would be the first Black woman governor in US history.
Lucy McBath, who lost her son Jordan Davis to racist gun violence, is running to represent Georgia’s 6th District in the US Congress.
The Honorable Barbara Lee is running to become Democratic Caucus Chair, and if elected by her fellow Democrats in the US House of Representatives, would be the highest ranking Black woman in the Democratic Party.
Paulette Jordan is running for Governor of Idaho, and if elected, would be the first Native American woman governor of a US state.
Next year will mark 400 years since the first Africans were brought in chains to serve us.
Fifty years ago this year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
Right here, right now, you can alter the course of our country’s history.
Please, Anne Hathaway, Brene Brown, and Elizabeth Gilbert, use your platform and influence to honor Nia Wilson’s memory by transforming our society so that young women like Nia can live fearlessly.
Karen Fleshman, Esq.
Founder, Racy Conversations
Karen Fleshman, Esq. is the founder of Racy Conversations.
Her mission is to inspire the first antiracist generation in the United States.
43% of Millennials are people of color. 47% of Generation Z are people of color.
When we flip 10% of the white people in those generations- and 10% of white women- to antiracism, we will have a majority antiracist generation that will be transformative.