By Kristy Gomez
As I sat down to finalize writing The Porchlight last Friday, I was confident in what I’d written. I knew I’d covered the topics relevant to the womxn of the Lola: highlighting Atlanta’s #BigActsSmallFacts initiative focused on how the Coronavirus is hitting Black and Brown communities harder than others; The Creatives Project’s Drive-Thru ATL’s experimental socially-distanced art exhibition; some events we’ve got coming up, and I ended it with a call to action to use our collective resources to support getting justice for Ahmaud Arbery, the Black man murdered here in Georgia while jogging in his neighborhood.
It Feels Like Another Time
That was just a week ago, and yet it feels like another time. That’s because now is a completely different time for me, as a Black womxn living in America. I’ll just say their names. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Black trans man Tony McDade. Then, worldwide Black Lives Matter protests and more police brutality. Then, in Atlanta the police brutally assault Spelman and Morehouse college students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young. Then, the racist rhetoric of the president. And that was just last week. I’ve tried to rewrite this several times and either my words fail me, my emotions get the best of me or the emotional labor is just too much for me to bear. Quite frankly, fellow Members, I am deeply, mentally traumatized and physically exhausted in a way many of you cannot understand. I’ll pass the mic to James Baldwin to expound.
But some of you do understand, so I will take a moment to speak to The Lola’s Black membership first.
I see you, friend, and I’m holding a space for you and us. I wish I could rub your shoulders, oil your scalp, make you a cup of tea, and let you sob into my chest and release some of the pain you’re holding.
While I can’t hold you close, here are 7 Virtual Mental Health Resources Supporting Black People Right Now. I’d also recommend heeding the words of Tricia Hersey aka The Nap Bishop of The Nap Ministry, and adopting the radical notion of “Rest as Resistance.” If meditation is how you bring yourself to center, try the free Liberate Meditation App, made especially for the Black, Indigenous and people of color community.
We have to take the words of our Caribbean-American lesbian activist, writer, poet, teacher and foremother Audre Lorde to heart:
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
— Audre Lorde
Please take care of yourselves, my sisters. Our people have been in this fight for justice and freedom for over 400 years, and we must fortify ourselves for the next phase of the journey. My hope is to encourage you and pour into you, so please DM me on Slack for more resources specific to our needs.
Now, back to the subject line of this email: We are exhausted. It’s your turn. This means that for many Black people, our collective energy right now oscillates between exhausted and enraged and sad and sometimes, invigorated by hope for change.
My hope is that in our exhaustion, our white and non-black Members will see this weariness as a call to action. A sign that now is the time to step beyond being an ally and become an accomplice, and commit to living an anti-racist life by actively fighting against racism shoulder-to-shoulder with us. Now is the time where you can join us in this fight, or better yet, pick up where we left off. How can you get started? Below are a few ways to begin:
Do The Work And Unlearn
Learn about the issues to be authentically informed and empowered.
On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah gave a good rundown on how the dominos of racial injustice and police brutality fall, and how we got to this moment.
Understand the intersections of being black AND a woman, and why the Lack of Mobilized Outrage For Police Killing Black Women Is An Injurious Erasure.
Use Your Privilege
No matter your profession or station in life, you can use your white privilege for the greater good. Social Change: EVERYONE HAS A ROLE TO PLAY gives detailed, direct and actionable ways you can contribute to solutions focused on undoing structural racism.
A living document on Medium making the rounds for good reason is 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice. It was created as an easily shareable document in response to the question “As a white person, what can I do?”
Talk To Your Children
It’s never too early to start raising an anti-racist child, or influencing the kids around you. Nicole Byer, the host of the kid-friendly Netflix show “Nailed It”, recently had a recommendation for a parent who said they would “keep their head down and just let their kids watch Nailed It” in the midst of all the Black Lives Matter protest coverage:
“That made me boo hoo hoo. That you will allow your kid to watch me, but not stand up for me. So I’ll do the work. I’ll write you a conversation to have with your white child.”
Other resources include The New York Times recommendation to Talk to Kids About Race, Early and Often, and a huge list of books an elementary school teacher shared called Children’s Books that Discuss Race and Racism.
Donate To Causes
When organizing a successful movement, there always needs to be a steady stream of funds to keep doing the work. There are many national organizations that need your support:
Black Lives Matter
Color for Change
National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
Southern Poverty Law Center
United Negro College Fund
Black Youth Project 100
The Sentencing Project
Be A Non-Black POC Ally
As a non-black person of color, there’s work and unlearning to be done to ensure you are supporting the Black community and not perpetuating internalized or cultural anti-blackness.
There’s so much more I could share, but as I mentioned, your girl is exhausted. Yet as exhausted as I am, I’m also fired up and committed to fighting for the liberation from tyranny and oppression for Black people and ALL people. Like my ancestors before me, I’ll keep on pushin’.
I’d really appreciate it if y’all would leave the Porchlight on for me, too. Thank you for reading and listening.
– Kristy Gomez