Dear White People, (to steal from an awesome show)
We need you in this fight toward collective liberation. Val Brown and I have been grappling with the idea that:
“No one is free until we are all free. My liberation is tied up in yours and vice versa. For example as long as White people are invested in their racist ideas, Black people won’t ever have true liberation. Until Black people are free, White people will be prisoners of their racist ideas.”
I am specifically talking to White people because we are the ones who created the problem and we are the ones who need to work towards rectifying what we have done. Plus I can only speak to the groups I am a part of and understand.
If you have already been joining the fight towards collective liberation since the beginning of inning one skip down to the second to last paragraph.
If you haven’t started yet I am glad you are here! There will be some who rightfully question what took you so long. That is a question you will have to wrestle with. What bias and hatred allowed me to go so long without working towards correcting the wrongs of this country? How could I live without knowing how much my inaction was harming people? How come I am just arriving to the fight in the tenth round? And we still need you.
Some of you have been asked, begged, besieged, and implored to use your massive platform for social justice which you have ignored. Your blatant disregard for the most vulnerable students allowed harm to be reproduced in classrooms around the country and the world. You have some hard questions to answer when you see yourself in the mirror. Why are you arriving in the tenth round when you could have been fighting since the third? And we still need you.
Still, others may be young and just entered the field of education. You have been raised in a White bubble (like myself) and through the purposeful guidance of our communities and family, you have not fully grasped the magnitude of the problem that permeates school. Now is the time to listen before you act. Listen to queer Black feminists and the leaders in social justice within the world of education such as Val Brown and Dr. Rosa Perez-Isaiah. Listen to professors of sociology like Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom. Once you have listened follow the people who have been doing the work for years. Nothing you are thinking of is new. Activists have been working toward collective liberation for years. You as well are just coming into the fight in the 10th round. And we need you.
Finally, to those White People who have been passionate about working toward social justice and collective liberation accept the new members who are here. You may have been here since the beginning bell or some round in between. Make George Floyd’s murder the crack that allows the light in. This is not to excuse those who have allowed harm to be inflicted on their Black students (again myself included). I am not writing to say let White people colonize movements because suddenly they see there is a problem. What I am saying is that in order to make meaningful changes in our schools and society we need everyone on board. Every human needs to come into the fold and work towards collective liberation.
Actively hating on where people are in this journey doesn’t bring us closer toward our goal. And most of all we continue to need you because you can check those of us who are just realizing there is a fight. You can help us avoid the pitfalls that will either get us knocked out or cause us to throw the towel in. You are the coach in the corner giving advice. You are the coach in the corner connecting us to training camps to grow and sharpen our skills. Without you we will get rope a doped by whiteness. We will flame out throwing punches in a flurry and exhausting our resources. You may be tired and angry with us as well for being ignorant and foolish. And most of all…we still need you.