I am racist.
I am not a racist. I am not cheering when police commit murder on Black citizens. I am not even insisting that if protesters (especially Black protesters) just assembled peacefully and obeyed the cops, they wouldn’t be rounded up, tear-gassed, shot, arrested.
But I am a white person who grew up in a racist society, a society that was and is sexist and homophobic, transphobic, and generally xenophobic, as well. If I look at myself honestly, I have to acknowledge that. I have to acknowledge that as a white person, I have tremendous privilege, and that I have been socially conditioned to accept that as my due and regard Black people as not really people.
On the other hand, I am also an adult human being, over fifty, who has lived all her life in a racially and culturally diverse city, who has a mind and will of her own. Deep down my heart and my gut reject -isms and othering. I reject the programming that teaches me to regard Blacks as less than human. I choose to be anti-racist. I choose also to be anti-fascist and anti-sexist. I do this as a human being with a conscience, as a white person, as a genderqueer bisexual person, as an American. I choose this stance on the basis of my upbringing as an Episcopalian and on the basis of my values learned from polytheism, from Tibetan Buddhism, from magical practice.
Black lives matter. They matter because they are human lives. They matter in America because much of what is truly American culture, our music, in particular, is Black culture. They matter to me because I have lived near Black people, gone to school with Black people, ridden the bus with Black people, sung in choirs with Black people, waited on and been waited on by Black people, worked with Black people, my entire life. They are my neighbors, co-workers, friends. They are people. Black lives matter.
I am one person and not well known. I don’t have a huge platform. I walk with a cane and can’t stand up without pain for more than five or ten minutes and hate crowds, so I don’t go to protests. To say what I have said here means little, perhaps, but it seemed important to me to say it, as it has seemed important for me to signal boost Black voices on other platforms where I am active, like Facebook and Tumblr. As it has seemed important that I should pray in reponse to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not conveniently gone away while our putative President waves a Bible in the air and threatens military action against his own citizens, and in response to the protests, the deaths, the brutality of police forces who claim “to serve and protect”, the chicanery of white supremacists infiltrating protests for their own aims, everything, it’s overwhelming, but I pray and I write, because that is what I can best do.