About a month ago, Claudia-Sam Cataford Sauvé approached me about a project she wanted me to be a part of. She wanted to “shed light on the different acts of racism that black women have experienced of which white women are probably not aware of, so that more awareness can spread, and acts of racism can stop.”
Hmm… I quickly thought to myself, ‘Nope. Racism will never end.’
That June morning, I was exhausted… because of racism. There were just too many thoughts and viral videos playing on repeat in my head. For instance, there were images of:
- George Floyd was being killed by a white police officer. That officer sat on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes and he wasn’t moved by a grown man crying out for his mother.
- Minneapolis residents protesting to an extreme that surprised and scared the hell out of me.
- The head the U.S. posing for the camera in front of a DC church, distressing members of the Church I belong to on social media. It takes a lot to piss off Episcopalians: Peaceful protesters tear-gassed for an unnecessary photo-op, would be one of those things.
- A young, Black EMT with a gorgeous smile named Breonna Taylor in her uniform. She was shot and killed in her home in Kentucky by officers in the middle of the night. The accompanying police report was practically blank but stated that Taylor had no injuries. They practically mocked an essential worker during a pandemic.
- Ahmaud Arbery was stalked, harassed, and killed in Georgia in broad daylight. I kept comparing his murder to that of Trayvon Martin’s killing: A black male, does some sort of movement like walking, jogging, or breathing, outside of his house, and some random white guy (not a cop) couldn’t mind his own damn business but was determined to end the life of that black male because of nonexistent threats. Speaking of nonexistent threats…
- A white woman called then lied to NYPD officers about a black birdwatcher because he confronted her for not following rules he did not put in place. And finally,
- A black woman recorded and posted her 18-minute rant that circulated social media. She stated that black people were the only group in the U.S. to uphold our “worst” and throughout the video, she spoke ill of the dead. I noticed who liked that video; who agreed with the quickly spewed-out statistics that could’ve been easily debunked with a quick Google search on the same device they were watching that video. I read the comments. Most of those people didn’t look like the ranter in the video. They didn’t look like me.
I cleared my head and promised Claudia-Sam an answer before the end of that June day. She wanted to have a conversation about how white women, like her can help black women like me in this current race-tense environment.
At first, I didn’t want to discuss this. Not with her, or anyone else. I’m no expert. There isn’t a Ph.D. attached to my name, nor am I a gender studies or ethnic studies major. I’m not even sure if I’ve taken a course in a related subject.
However, what I knew was that black people were being gunned down and snuffed out on video. The prevalence of the above and other related incidents kept me up at night.
I wondered if I was too angry to talk about racism. I was posting #BlackLivesMatter and #SayHerName (and/or #SayHisName) on a near-daily basis, and not caring if I was losing friends in the process. Then I worried if perhaps I wasn’t angry enough. In the midst of an ever-changing epidemic/pandemic, I wasn’t out and about and protesting in my neighborhood.
I have had thoughts and ideas about minimizing racial discrimination. I have had experiences where I was racially discriminated against. Were these thoughts and experiences enough to warrant a systemic change? Probably not… Maybe… At the very least, they were enough to start and have a positive, yet serious conversation about racism with someone who genuinely wanted to listen and help.
After downing a cup of strong coffee, mentally contrasting pros vs cons on why I should or should not have this conversation, and after a long meditation session, I reached out to Claudia-Sam, and I agreed to have a conversation.
This is the result of our talk: https://bit.ly/3gtXuxA