Some Musings Around Racism…and Other Thoughts During this Neverending Pandemic

Well, here we are.  At first, we were sheltered inside our homes.  Not quite sure whether to trust that it was a good time to walk outside with our masks and/or gloves.   Unsure of what’s going to happen to our jobs, our livelihood, and frankly, our future.  Trying to stay sane and positive.  

Some of us were cooking more, sleeping in late, gardening, relating to family members more, catching up on our To-Do Lists – or not.

Maybe now and then you’d exercise.  For me, it was more “then” than “now”.  

We’d been told to use this time for personal reflection, and learn to appreciate a simpler lifestyle.  Yes, this is a time for introspection.  And yes, we can binge-watch several seasons of that mindless tv show, it’s perfectly okay. We have the right to not feel guilty about being “productive”.  Screw cleaning out closets.

And then – the death of George Floyd happened. Our country was shaken in a way it had never been before. Global protests seem to attest to the world’s recognition that many of our society’s ills stem from the white supremacy this country was founded upon. The pandemic has underscored racial inequities within our institutions of health, education, finance, real estate, and politics.

So I want to discuss something that you’re probably already aware of. 

There’s been a serious uptick in white nationalist violence designed to intimidate black and brown people.  The pandemic is being used by white supremacists to build off the disaster. As the advocacy group Push Black notes, “Racist narratives about societal collapse and scapegoating of different oppressed people are methods bigots wanting to say “I told you so” are using to recruit and build their movements.” Although anti-Black racism is central to this issue, we’re also seeing an increase in Asian people being widely harassed and openly physically attacked. Native American women have seen an increase in incidents of abuse, with Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia blocking a bill intended to improve the federal government’s response to violence against Native American women.

But something needs to be done to specifically address this white nationalist surge.

I am not a social scientist. I don’t have a poli sci degree; my Master’s degree is in Education.   But in the 18 or so years that I’ve been researching social injustice and actively conducting discussion circles around race,  I’ve come to recognize this – that many people genuinely want this country to get its stuff together around racism.  

There are tons of articles, book lists, and activities now available to anyone genuinely interested in anti-racist work. This is valuable, as we all can continue to educate ourselves around this issue. 

But I want to invite you to take another step, and that is to gather your friends and like-minded people to be more proactive against white nationalist terrorism in particular.

Short of having a national referendum on this topic (and who knows WHEN that will happen), we can address this problem by starting at the local level, engaging people within their immediate communities, then working with municipal policymakers. It begins simply with like-minded people talking about the need to do something, then coming together in alliances to work step by step. But it starts, very simply, with talking.

That’s why I’m inviting you to consider convening a virtual gathering of your acquaintances to specifically discuss the current white extremist terrorism and connect with groups to push back against it. Whether or not you think you’re up to it, or capable or knowledgeable enough to lead a discussion about racism, I’d like to convince you that you are.  These times call for all of us to be anti-racists in a more proactive manner.  We need more folks to 1) inform others what white nationalists are up to, and 2) be aware of the need to reinforce basic beliefs around democracy and equity, then 3) connect with other like-minded groups to be proactive.