I am taking a short break from sharing Santa Cruz sunsets to talk about something much more pressing than where I recently hiked. As you all know, I tend to have strong opinions related to our political system, but especially in regards to social justice issues. I am basically a socialist (thanks to Bernie for making that socially acceptable to say) and have spent my career in social work, working with our most vulnerable and underprivileged populations. I support programs that even liberals sometimes have trouble swallowing.
So, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I strongly support the Black Lives Matter movement. We, as white people, have had the privilege of ignoring how deep and how destructive our culture’s racism is for far too long, and we cannot ignore it anymore. Nor should we. Every day, I see the results of our racism. I see it in our justice system, the unfairly harsh penalties given to black men, the disproportionate number of black men that are incarcerated. I see it in the ‘stop and frisk’ policies in NYC. I see it in the countless, never-ending stories of police brutality, perpetrated largely against black people. I see it in the voter suppression efforts in North Carolina. I see it when people ignorantly say ‘All Lives Matter.’ Institutional racism, structural racism, implicit racism, personal racism. Racism permeates every aspect of our culture, and talking about it and growing awareness are no longer enough. We need to take action.
In that vein, Shaun King – a social justice writer whose writing and advocacy I greatly respect and admire – has begun organizing the Injusice Boycott ‘to combat police brutality, racial violence and systemic injustice in America.’ He outlines the framework for the boycott – beginning December 5th – here, and I can’t urge you strongly enough to make the ‘pledge that you will boycott cities, states, businesses, and institutions which are either willfully indifferent to police brutality and racial injustice or are deliberately destructive partners with it.’ In America, we vote with our money, every day, with every purchase, and it’s time to vote for justice.
Now, I realize that the boycott will be inconvenient for some of us. While we don’t have all the details yet, I suspect that there will be places that we can no longer shop and cities that we can no longer see a concert in. To that end, I want to remind you that police brutality and racial injustice are more than inconveniences; they are a tragedy. Black families have had to endure the horrific consequences of white people’s privilege and convenience for centuries; surely we can shop somewhere else or skip that show for a few months or years.
I am tired of living in a country that refuses to take ownership of its brutal history – as Michael Moore said in his latest film, we are ‘a country born in genocide and built on the backs of slavery – and work to make amends. I am tired of living in a country where white people are too afraid to talk about racism in any meaningdul way. I am tired of living in a country that would rather ignore problems than do the hard work to create change. I am so tired of inaction and denial and changing the topic and ignorance and rationalization and justification. I’m tired of it all.
And you know what else? Black people are tired of it. Black families are tired of grieving their loved ones and being afraid of law enforcement and being asked if you can touch their hair and cultural appropriation and mass incarceration. Black people are tired of having to educate ignorant white people who are too lazy to read a book to educate themselves. Black people are tired of white people crticizing literally every way they try to peacefully protest while doing NOTHING about the real issues that they are protesting. They are more than tired of it. They are fed up. Frankly, at this point, I think we all ought to be grateful that they are sticking to peaceful protests. If most white men were treated the way most black men are for one whole week, I suspect that they’d burn the whole country down with their rage.
Joining this boycott is how we stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters. It is how we tell them that we see what is happening and we know that it is so very wrong. It is how we tell them that YOUR LIFE MATTERS. Joining this boycott is an act of love.
This is how we change the world, People. It’s time. It’s long past time. Which side of history do you want to be on?
Join us. ❤️ I love you.