Wednesday watch: How do you know it was racism?

W. Kamau Bell is one of my favorite comedians because he combines smart takes on political issues and a passion for social justice with also just being very funny. In this video from his new album, he talks about frustrations with white people not believing people of color when they say something was racist.

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Organization of the month: Equal Justice Initiative

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I first became aware of Equal Justice Initiative when I read Just MercyI had heard other activists speak reverently about this book by Bryan Stevenson. The book chronicles his move to Alabama to start an organization to defend poor people battling a racist justice system and free those who have been wrongfully convicted. It’s a searing indictment of our criminal justice system and a beautiful meditation on the concept of mercy and how it should infuse our culture and our approach to criminal justice.  Continue reading “Organization of the month: Equal Justice Initiative”

Wednesday watch: White fragility

As our culture and media evolve to allow more open discussion about racism and give people a platform for calling out offensive behavior, we’ve seen an unsurprising backlash. People get up in arms about being targeted for their racism, and act as though correctly labeling their actions as racist is worse than the racist acts themselves (just ask the governor who is continually embarrassing my home state).

AJ+ YouTube channel Newsbroke does a terrific sendup of this phenomenon with a satirical workplace training video on protecting the feelings of white coworkers who can’t handle being confronted about their own racism.

 

Attitudes about Black Lives Matter parallel attitudes about the civil rights movement

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We’ve all probably seen some kind of documentary about the civil rights movement and scoffed at the ignorant white person who complained that the movement was “moving too fast” or that they were going to alienate people with their tactics. It’s safe and comfortable and we have the distance of history and hindsight that allows us to admire their bravery and support their efforts.  Continue reading “Attitudes about Black Lives Matter parallel attitudes about the civil rights movement”

Wednesday watch: 4 Black Lives Matter myths debunked

Many of us dread getting into a conversation with an “All Lives Matter” person. In the heat of this election season and the growing power of the Black Lives Matter movement, we’re likely to have a lot more discussions with people who cling to myths about BLM and what it represents.

As Franchesca Ramsey points out, we need to have these uncomfortable conversations in order to make progress. Her video offers a handy guide to debunking 4 common arguments people make against Black Lives Matter.

 

For white people who believe Black Lives Matter

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A lot of well-meaning white people have asked ourselves what we would have done if we were around during the civil rights movement. It’s not a hypothetical any more. We no longer have the comfortable distance of history that allows us to reassure ourselves that we would have spoken up, we would have resisted, we would have supported black people fighting for their lives. Black people are fighting for their lives now. Today. Fifty years from now, we want to look back at this time and know we were on the right side of history. This is the true test of our ideals; to stay silent at this historic moment is a betrayal.  Continue reading “For white people who believe Black Lives Matter”

Wednesday watch: Jesse Williams at the BET Awards

If you’re like me, your social media feeds were full of people sharing actor and activist Jesse Williams’ acceptance speech at the BET Awards, and with good reason. His speech is a searing indictment of racism and police brutality and has some blunt words for critics of the Black Lives Matter movement. If you haven’t taken a few minutes to watch yet, it’s well worth your time.

Jesse Williams