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Rev. Barber Speaks Truth on Systemic Racism and White Supremacy

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What We Can DO

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What can I do?
I hear so many people voicing their concern for these times and asking, “What can I do?”

Are you one of these tender-hearted people who believes in love, peace, and honoring the good in all humans? Are you afraid and possibly even paralyzed by the violence and hate that you are seeing and hearing around you? It’s real what you’re feeling. AND if your beliefs are authentic to who you are — you have to ACT also. Feeling the fear and sadness, talking about your concerns or sharing your beliefs on Facebook or with friends is not enough. We must ACT if we are serious about confronting the hate, violence, oppression and discrimination that is clearly alive and active in our local, regional, national and global communities.

Char Adams offers 4 very important things to DO. I’ve expanded on her words with my own comments.

1. Educate yourself – Google before you ask someone else to guide you. There is sooo much information on the internet – from how-to guides, the top 5 things to do, educational resources, to personal stories that show you a window into the lives of people who are different from you. Most likely you know what you are ignorant about and where you could use some education. Wether it’s what White Supremacy looks like in 2017, the racial disparities that exist in your local community, what someone means when they say they use “they/them” pronouns, or what Muslims actually believe… take time to learn.

2. Get involved locally – I have 2 big requests for locals in Asheville and I’m hoping my friends reading this will offer to help. 1. PLEASE donate money now to the Black August Bail Out Action to bail out Black women, queer and transgender folks who are still in prison only because they can’t afford bail. Info in comments. 2. Direct message me if you are free this Friday from 4:45-7 or 7-9:15 to volunteer at Downtown After Five to sell wrist bands and help raise money for a local organization, My Daddy Taught Me That. Beyond those two immediate requests, there are so many local groups wherever you live that are doing the important on-the-ground work of caring for, protecting, and nourishing people who are impacted by oppression. Wether you make calls to local people in positions of power, show up at civic meetings or the offices of public officials, volunteer on the ground, give money, or partner in another way… get involved.

3. Talk to your friends, families and peers about systemic oppression and privilege and how it effects people daily and address oppressive comments and behaviors when they come up (I amended this one) -

677625a3588698144ea69e24d52de82d425e62e1So many people think that White Supremacy is just the KKK and overt hate crimes. Yet the reality is that White Supremacy is profoundly alive in our schools, health care system, justice system, housing and transportation systems, etc. Talk to people about how the denial of home loans and housing discrimination has perpetuated poverty and allowed certain groups of people to prosper and accumulate wealth from one generation to the next. Discuss how racial profiling in policing and the judicial system and thus the disproportionate numbers of people of color and people in poverty that are incarcerated is effecting the lives of good people and destroying families. Talk about the impact of our segregated education system, the biased curriculums that so many learn from, and the impact this has on children’s lives and society at large. And be direct with your friends, family or peers when they say or do something that is racist or oppressive. Start acknowledging the jokes that are offensive or the off-handed derogatory comments. Don’t be silent. Don’t hide from difficult, uncomfortable conversations.

4. Constantly evaluate yourself – We have all been raised in a society that is steeped in ideology and behaviors of racism, superiority, oppression, privilege, etc. I seriously doubt that in the life time of anyone reading this, you will be healed from the impacts of oppression and privilege. The patterns of systemic oppression, White Supremacy, paternalism and patriarchy are powerful and insidious and we are all effected. It is a process of constant self evaluation to discover where these patterns are alive in me and how I can keep learning about myself, my beliefs, my sometimes hidden from myself biases, the ways I act that are offensive and oppressive and so much more. Don’t stop. Be courageous in your self-reflection. It may be hard to see parts of yourself that you didn’t know were there, but the liberation on the other side of that insight is so life-saving, both for you and for those in the world around you.

I thank you for caring enough to be asking yourself, “What can I do?” And I am profoundly grateful for your concrete efforts to join with others, to unite in action and grow in strength the numbers of us who are courageously committed to the liberation of all people from oppression, hate and violence. Together we can do this. May it be so.


Additional resources:

 

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Homework Diner in Asheville

HwkDiner

Feed your brain: Homework Diner program offers families dinner and academic support.

Such a beautiful offering and community collaboration. Yes!!

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Fund Grassroots Organizations Lead by People of Color

“We need to shift funding decisions from which orgs write the best proposal and have the best “capacity” and start considering factors such as do at least half their board members and the majority of their senior staff come from the communities they’re serving.”

Important article about Funders’ Role in Protecting Marginalized Communities During the Next Four Years.

Some recommendations gathered from speaking to leaders from marginalized communities, especially communities of color:

  • Assess how much you’re investing in organizations led by communities of color and other marginalized communities
  • Increase your payout
  • Change your priorities around how you select which orgs get funding
  • Stop listening to the siren song of “strategic philanthropy”
  • Take risks and accept failure. And do it faster
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Youth Transformed for Life – YTL

We have gems in our communities. Libby Kyles is one in Asheville. Not only is she a 5th grade teacher at Isaac Dickson (one of about 10 African American teachers in all of Asheville City Schools – ACS & ACSF have not been able to give me an exact number), she is also the co-founder of YTL – Youth Transformed for Life, among other ways she gives to this community. Please take a moment to read her words below. If you are looking for hope for our future, consider investing in opportunities for all youth to experience the richness of life.

YTLFrom Libby:

Having just returned from a DC trip with my fifth-graders, I know now more than ever how important it is that children of color get outside of the walls of Asheville and see other successful people of color and experience activities outside of their realm of knowledge. The African-American population in Asheville has decreased by half from a little over 12% to 6%. Our children are suffering and struggling through the public education system. I cofounded a nonprofit. Each summer we take participants who might not otherwise be able to take a week and go away to horseback riding camp or Clay making camp or soccer camp, and we provide for them eight weeks of enrichment using various activities such as therapeutic horseback riding, experiences with artist in residence, a continued partnership with Clay works in the River Arts District, and lots of other fun summer activities. This year we provided an afterschool program and would love to take seven amazing young men and women to Atlanta for three days of their spring break. Our youth need these opportunities!
For all the people who are asking what they can do this week to combat what’s happening with the presidency, who can we call and where can we march — consider making enrichment and summer fun for children of color in Asheville a part of your political agenda.
We are working really hard to provide opportunities of enrichment and to create programming that is consistent and follows them through the school year so that we can aid in their ability to advocate for themselves.
Consider sponsoring a student for the summer at $800, a week of camp at $2,000, or a hotel room stay at $180 per night. Whatever you choose to give, we will greatly appreciate it!

 

Donations are always welcomed – even if you’re reading this post much later than it was posted!!

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May I Be a Worthy Servant

This past year I have written more online. I have used social media to ask the questions my heart ponders or frets over, share the news that crosses my path, and to articulate the ways I make meaning of the world around me. The responses from people reading my words have helped me see more clearly some of the ways I embody elements that Chani Nicholas speaks to in the Virgo call to service below. I am honored to be alive in this way and to show up and serve. Thank you for being on this journey with me. I always welcome feedback about ways I do below that are helpful/effective or not. May we amaze ourselves in the days to come as we recreate ourselves…

“You are our beloved nerd. Our expert. Our sincere seeker of the facts. The one who will ask the right questions. The one who can separate the truth from the rest of the information. You are discerning, unfazed by pomp and circumstance. You seek to understand the systems of nature we live within, looking for the beautiful, naturally occurring alchemy that uses every aspect of creation to recreate itself. You know nature’s efficiency. You know how to value the clean machine that is our earth. You know how to value the wisdom of the body. You teach us all manner of natural remedies. You know how to locate and remove what is unnecessary, toxic or ill-fitting. You know what is wrong with a thing because you know how to think critically about it and everything else.

This year we will need your compassionate critique. We will need your analysis. We will need your natural talent to deconstruct the ill-formed theories that have no place in a fair and just world. You are no fool and this year will have no shortage of foolish ideas. Bless us with your ability to cut them down to size with nothing but logic.

We need you to remind us that success isn’t about the applause we receive but about the quality of work we are able to produce in service of something greater than ourselves. You work for the sake of the work. You know what it is to be humble. To be wrong. To be worried about getting it done well. Help us to be thoughtful, concerned, hard-working citizens. Help us to remember that we will make mistakes so we might as well become dedicated students to the wisdom we most wish to embody.

In exchange, we will calm you when you feel like you need to fix everything. This situation is beyond broken. It is not your responsibility alone to figure out the whole mess. The future needs us all.”

 

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Do Whatever You’re Good At

I’m thankful for this reminder for acceptance and forgiveness from Heather Plett.

If you’re busy dismantling the patriarchy, you don’t need to know how to fold a fitted sheet.

If you’re a safe place to land for wounded friends, it’s okay if you forgot to take out the trash this week.

If you’re creating a piece of art, you can be forgiven for eating junk food for supper.

If you’re teaching somebody to read, nobody needs to know that you’re wearing the same pants you wore yesterday.

If you were kind to a stranger today, it doesn’t matter that you have no fashion sense.

Do whatever you’re good at and let the rest be “good enough”.

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