3. Stop saying “This can’t be happening in America.”
I understand the impulse, I really do. But that impulse only comes to those who are insulated and isolated from how America treats poor people and people of color every day. Langston Hughes wrote “America never was America to me” in 1935. If you didn’t quite understand that poem in your junior high or high-school lit classes, read it again, while you think about what’s happening in Ferguson. Let it sink in.
If you live in an urban environment, you’re in a position to bear witness and document inappropriate and abusive police behavior. If you see an African-American neighbor being detained by police, wait to see what happens. Get your phone out. Download the ACLU’s “Police Tape” app, and if you see something that looks off, take a video that will upload directly to their servers, in case your phone is confiscated. Whatever police may tell you, this is your legal right.
7. Educate yourself about the systematic inequality that leads to civil unrest.
The St. Louis American ran a powerful editorial today that fleshes out the history of Ferguson. When you finish reading that, go somewhere quiet for a bit and settle down with Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “The Case for Reparations.” Don’t stop there.
If you don’t have any African-American friends, you might want to think about why that is.
10. Okay, go ahead and tweet.
And Facebook. Tumblr. Instagram. Vine. Amplify the voices of people on the ground, and help counteract the damaging narratives being propagated by some mainstream media organizations. It’s the very least we can do.
been slacking w/ my tumblr because i’ve been going off about ferguson on facebook. thankfully most of my friends are like-minded and i’ve seen them calling out their clueless white friends. thank god i made a new profile a few months ago and didn’t have to deal with all the bigots i had added on my last account. that was probably one of the best moves i made for my mental health.
WELCOME TO OUR LIVES. WELCOME TO YEARS OF SEARCHING FOR SPACES WHERE WE CAN INVITE ALL OUR BROWN, ALL OUR QUEER, ALL OUR BROKEN. WELCOME TO THE MILLIONS OF MAGAZINES WE HAVE WALLPAPERED OUR MINDS WITH. WELCOME TO THAT ONE WORKSHOP WHERE WE ASKED “WHAT ABOUT RACE” AND THEY TOLD US IT GOT COMPLICATED “WHEN YOU INTRODUCE RACE.” WELCOME TO BEING A PROBLEM. WELCOME TO BEING IRRELEVANT. WELCOME TO THAT PORN FILM, WELCOME TO THAT HOLLYWOOD MOVIE, WELCOME TO THAT POLITICIAN, WELCOME TO THAT “NOT ME,” WELCOME TO THAT “NEVER ME.” WELCOME TO THAT PERPETUAL FEELING OF DISLOCATION – THAT DAILY RITUAL OF BEING PRESENT BUT NEVER BEING VISIBLE. WELCOME TO YOU NO LONGER BELONG HERE. WELCOME TO YOU NEVER BELONG HERE. WELCOME TO INVISIBILITY. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOTHING? HOW DOES IT FEEL TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE AN AFTERTHOUGHT? RELISH IN THE COMPLETE ABSENCE OF OUR NOT GIVING A FUCK. RELISH IN HOW TERRIFYING IT IS FOR THE WORLD TO SLIP FROM YOUR FINGERS. WELCOME TO “NO I AM NOT INTERESTED IN FUCKING YOU.” WELCOME TO “YOUR OPINION NO LONGER MATTERS.” WE REFUSE TO APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR OWN SELF- ANNIHILATION. WE REFUSE TO APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR INADEQUACY. WE REFUSE TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE LIE YOUR PARENTS RECITED TO YOU WHEN YOU “BEAUTIFUL” WHEN YOU “POWERFUL” WHEN YOU “SIGNIFICANT.” WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO WATCH YOUR FANTASY DECAY ALL AROUND YOU? WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO DISAPPEAR IN THE SATURATION OF YOUR OWN UNBEARABLE WHITENESS OF BEING? #INSTAGRAM THAT. MAKE A FACEBOOK STATUS AND GET NO LIKES FOR IT. WRITE A NOVEL ABOUT IT AND REALIZE YOU HAVE NO ONE LEFT TO PUBLISH IT FOR YOU. SPIT IT TO THE TO THE VAST EMPTINESS OF THE STARS. BE GRATEFUL IF THEY HAVE THE CHARITY TO EVEN LISTEN FOR A SECOND.