The scene: // Brightening gray.
In Vasilly’s insightful post “On Recovery,” she gave me a shout-out for attending Black Lives Matter vigils, something she knows more from my Facebook page than my blog. So, I thought I’d share a few links today, in this space. I know that white people are asking themselves “What can I do?” Here’s what’s working for me.
Reading books. Here’s an easy one for book readers and it’s surprisingly common advice from black activists to white allies. I’ve been reading books with a group in my community since a shooting tragedy here. The end of this post on my book club rounds up some suggested reading with a few titles to help you get started.
Standing vigil. One of the people I stand vigil with wrote a lovely piece yesterday about our experience.
Witnessing Whiteness. This is a program offered through the YWCA that studies the book of the same title by Shelly Tochluk. The study groups are multiplying here and elsewhere. We meet twice a month for ten sessions to explore what it means to develop a healthy white identity that can ground an anti-racist stance. My new aspiration: to facilitate a Witnessing Whiteness group in the future.
Attending meetings. I tell people who wonder what’s going on in St. Louis, after seeing scary images on TV, that mostly what is going on is meetings. Lots and lots of meetings. That’s how things get hashed out, explored, and planned before they can be implemented. I attended my first meeting of a Working Group of the Ferguson Commission last week and intend to participate in Monday’s meeting that will explore trauma and stress. There’s a lot of well-deserved cynicism around commissions, but I can tell you that what I witnessed on Friday was nuanced, evidence-based, and steeped in history. There was no shirking from either complexity or controversy.
Starting now. I suggest approaching anti-racism with equal parts urgency and patience. It’s a long road and if you’re just beginning, it will take a little while to find the right vehicle for you. Try something — learn from it — try something else. I’ve been reading books for seven years, standing vigil for eight months, Witnessing Whiteness for three months (even though I’ve been aware of it for years), and attending Ferguson Commission meetings for three days (even though I’ve been aware of it for months). It’s an ever-deepening mix that is also ever-more satisfying. Jump in! Now is the time.