An Ostrich Act

We’re doing it again. We’re pretending not to know racism when we see it. It’s the hallmark of white America. Liberals rebrand, and conservatives outright deny. But it’s all an ostrich act.

The litany of ways we deny people of color their personhood continues into our modern era. Before it was outright, bodily rejection that black and brown bodies could be people. Defenses were made and laws were passed. And in every stage of the struggle, black bodies paid for it. And as we have progressed, after being forced into making concessions, white America redraws the lines, and finds a more nuanced way of clinging to its history, entrenched in white superiority, in segregationism. White people are stuck in a perpetual reticence to acknowledge themselves or other white people as perpetrators of racism. We have never thrown up our hands, knelt before those whose bodies have borne the brunt of our prejudices, and cried out for forgiveness. We have never collectively propelled forward any actionable policy in which we become the listeners, we become the obedient. We have never asked, “What do we do to make this right?” listened, and acted accordingly. Instead, we hedge. I don’t see color. But reparations cost too much. If you’re in jail, it must be for something. If you obey the police, you won’t get shot. Is he a racist, or has he just said some things that sounded racist? We bend the rules as they apply to the humanity of others so that we don’t have to see the ways in which we have violated brown and black bodies. We say this isn’t what racism is, it’s just unconscious bias, and the more we hedge, the easier it is for us to ignore the reality that our president elect was endorsed by the most prominent hate group in America, that hate crimes have skyrocketed since the election, that more than one man appointed to a cabinet position is an outright white supremacist.  And it’s because we’ve been so busy plugging our ears and chanting that all lives matter, instead of listening to the men and women of color begging to please not be killed in the streets by police officers. Just because we’ve done away with the official stance that people of color do not matter, does not rid us of the quiet and insipid policies that disproportionately do harm to them.

Nothing reeks of this trespass more than the news media’s coverage over the last two weeks. There has been an enormous amount of focus on whether various pundits were proponents of the monster, created it, or whether they were simply comfortable breathing the same air. These are not real distinctions, merely obfuscations, meant to normalize that which ought never to have existed.

Our moral well-being, the state of our souls, the content of our character is rotting from our own deceit, and once again, black bodies bear the burden of it.

So we need to say it together, believe it together, act like it together:

Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives  Matter.

I try to find threads of hope and kindness to bring into my posts, no matter how dark they are. This is to honor my own sense of goodness and beauty as well as a reflection of the title of this blog: an indomitable grace. Part of me wants to tell you about the conversation I had with a friend last night where we told stories of the powerful and gracious black women we know—women who are simultaneously deconstructing and holding together the universe everywhere they go. We are in awe of them and deeply grateful for their presence in our lives. I am worried that these tender thoughts may only encourage the sense of safety that comes with sticking your head in the sand. So, I am going to leave you with a challenge, an accusation, a mediation, a proverb from black twitter:

“America, [we] racist AF.”

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