The Intersection of Racial Justice, Art, and Environmentalism.
This past week I took “muted but listening” to heart after the tragedy of George Floyd's death, making space to listen to and amplify black voices on social media. Here is how that went for me.
For the first day, I didn’t hear anything besides outrage from my fellow white folk, and many black squares. But the next day, black voices started to spread as we all began reading, watching, listening, sharing. Truth is, they have always been sharing their experience and fighting for change, just many of us don’t hear it. We subconsciously surround ourselves with voices that look like us.
There were a handful of messages that spoke to me deeply and inspired me to make more of an effort than I have before. We all need to start somewhere.
- "In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist." -Angela Davis
- This uprising for George Floyd doesn’t feel different than any of the others, but this time it is louder.
- Videos like this one. Imagining the innocence of young children stripped away when black parents have “the talk” about how to stay alive in the face of discrimination.
And a few things I reflected on:
- The link between environmental issues & racial justice. How when a huge proportion of the population is so focused on basic survival, how can we possibly concentrate on fighting environmental issues? Justice for all = moving forward.
- Using white privilege to stand by and step in to prevent police brutality. Keeping just as watchful of an eye as our colored community.
- The system is so complex. There is no one entity at fault, but centuries of wrong turns from politicians, prison systems, corporations, police force, even artists. We need to approach it from all angles. It is a long road ahead.
- How can we ensure our children are aware? I was lucky to grow up in Philadelphia, attend diverse schools, have all kinds of friends. I think it will be a challenge in Santa Cruz, but we will make an effort to have a diverse friend group and soak in culture through books and media. Have discussions. And travel as much as we can. Plant those seeds.
- We all take action in different ways, and I find myself judging those who are still ignoring the issue or talking it down or just plain staying silent. The “good” white people sharing photos of themselves at protests - what does that accomplish? Muffling the black voices? Navigating my judgment and turning it into a productive conversation.
Reflection is a beginning, but action is what is needed. Here is my plan to help fight the fight:
- Read, listen, and share. Educate myself and others. Amplify the black experience to my network so that it isn't missed. Sorry, I’m not sorry if that is not what you want to see.
- Re-examine my judgments and prejudice.
- Vow to speak up when I hear or read unjust remarks.
- Signing petitions, many only take a minute!
- Educate myself so that I can be a more effective voter.
- Continue to shop small & local. Support the companies that are progressive, cut ties with the ones that are not.
- Return to the below-linked references to implement more as I am able to.
- Contribute money to the fight, and use my artistic gift to give back. I was inspired to create this new image revolving around all of these ideas I've written of. 100% of proceeds from the "Be Kind" collection will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative. EJI is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S., challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. They've earned the top ranking from Charity Navigator and won a Skoll Award for their impact on social justice reform.
At the bare minimum, be kind. A message that will always be relevant no matter what.
Cops: be kind.
People: be kind.
Be kind as a listener.
Be kind when negotiating.
Be kind to those who look different.
Be kind to those who don’t speak your language.
Be kind to animals & plants & ecosystems.
Be kind to the Earth.
And Earth will be kind to you.
For we all share one thing in common: that we are human.
When I look to the future I see a world where people and nature coexist again, and where people do not fear other people. It may be thousands of years off, but we can lay the groundwork today. And yesterday and every day.
There is so much to discuss. Please leave a comment here or send me an email if you have any thoughts, comments, want to keep this conversation going, or have suggestions on how I can use my platform to be more supportive. <3
These words are a snapshot in my mind. They may not be perfect, but that fear is another reason these things stay hushed. Let's keep fighting the good fight, learning, and growing.
Lastly, here are a few resources that I found super helpful. The first two contain many more links to great resources so you can take action:
75 things White People can do for Racial Justice.
Anti-Racism Resources: Books, articles, films, etc.
“I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet.” By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
“My White Friend Asked Me on Facebook to Explain White Privilege. I Decided to Be Honest” By Lori Lakin Hutcherson
The Conscious Kid book suggestions for kids
Thank you for your words and actions and intentions and the reminder to be kind and thank you for your integrity.