Friday links

37

  • “There are decades when nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen,” wrote Vladimir Lenin long ago, and I think we know which one of those categories these past seven days fall into. Stepping back from the blog for most of this week was my version of taking a knee—it felt like a necessary gesture to me, and I thank you for your support and input these past few days. I believe we will get through this and that real change can come—but not without action on the part of people, among others, like me, who are largely unaffected by racism. I keep thinking about that Desmond Tutu quote: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” It’s no longer enough to tweet the right things after a tragedy like George Floyd happens and maybe, you know, not post on your blog for a few days. The time is here for action, and right now I’m puzzling through what that looks like for me, but I’m starting off by educating myself. Below, find some of what I’ve been checking out, as well as some pretty moving street art. (My Modern Met)
  • A commenter named Nadine recommended this piece —Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race—and it’s reallv worthwhile. Thanks, Nadine. (Guardian)
  • Here are 12 documentaries worth watching about racism and police brutality. (Vulture)
  • 77 black-owned businesses you can support right now. (Strategist)
  • An excellent reading list from Danielle Henderson. Also from Danielle: this was one of the most affecting things I’ve heard on the topic of race in America lately. (Instagram)
  • This woman taking down rioters in her neighborhood—I’m pretty sure it’s the East Village—is righteous as hell. Why this footage has not gone viral yet is beyond me. (YouTube)
  • God, I found this upsetting, but it is so worth watching: black parents talk to their children about how to talk to the police. (The Cut)
  • The next time you’ve got a book to order, why not do so from one of these black-owned indie bookstores? (LitHub)
  • Various ways to support the struggle against police brutality. (The Cut)
  • 15 brands that are donating their sales proceeds to Black Lives Matter. (Vogue)
  • I love 16 year-old tennis phenom Coco Gauff, and was so inspired by this speech, which she gave at a demonstration in her Florida hometown. (CNN)
  • Here’s all the best protest and benefit music released recently in response to police brutality. (Vulture)

 

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37 Thoughts on Friday links
    Mamavalveeta03
    5 Jun 2020
    11:58am

    We have got to be more than armchair activists. And we’ve got to be willing to talk to our relatives and friends that just don’t get it. I was on a Zoom webinar last night for VoteSaveAmerica.com to help get Biden elected in swing states – it’s their “Adopt a State” plan – and one of the things that Tommy Vietor said really stuck with me: ”We’ve got to be willing to be uncomfortable.” Sure it’s hard to have these discussions with people, but can we live with ourselves if we don’t?

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    Viajera
    5 Jun 2020
    8:18pm

    So, I’d just like to say that I don’t think I agree that “white supremacy” is “the problem.” At least, not as defined here – bc I believe that all Americans, of all ethnicities, have a racist part of their psyche. (If some of you don’t feel this is true of you, that’s fine … I’m not going to argue it.) So in my view, all humans who live here sometimes have these thoughts and feelings. We *do* have a bunch of interconnected kinds of inequalities (more on that later). … Now you might reasonably ask yourself, why is this weirdo on the internet even bothering to bring this up, right now when everyone is in so much pain? Well, first, maybe it *is* the wrong time. If not though, I think it’s worth talking about bc to me, the way you solve problems is with analysis. A wrong solution will not fix us. So the analysis has to be right. … To me, economic inequality is about 95% of our problems. We need to address *that.* And if we can get some kind of agreement – which is a big if – we might get somewhere. Waiting until we all turn into saints is unrealistic. Wearing a hairshirt isn’t going to do anything either. And as for the specific problem of policing, Connie Rice has my proxy. … However, I too think kindly of all of you and I will think about this more, I promise. Who knows, maybe you’re right. And it is true, I am opinionated and set in my ways. Old school-ish. I know a lot of POC who are too though, just fyi…

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      Viajera
      5 Jun 2020
      8:19pm

      Actually, I should say, other POC. But then I also don’t think that should matter. Either I make a good argument or I don’t.

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        Jeanne
        5 Jun 2020
        9:46pm

        I’m going to follow Mamavalveeta’s call to action and attempt to give a thoughtful reply to your comment. I don’t disagree with you that income disparity is a huge problem. However we cannot reach income equality without racial equality. For if the majority of people hang onto their racism either actively, silently or unknowingly, they may use their emotions of superiority to work against economic disparity. “Why hire that brown/female/handicapped/LGBTQ person in this higher paying job? I’d prefer to see them beneath me.” This type of systemic behavior would work against any income inequality progress. Sure racism and bias exist, even in people of color. But is it not the common goal of moral humanity to see racist “feelings” identified and then repressed if not extinguished? For many this is the first time they are identifying it in themselves even though the topic has been around for ages. What a wonderful advocate for change that is! And for massive social change like income disparity to happen, humans must emotionally come closer to feeling fellowship with other humans.

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          Viajera
          6 Jun 2020
          3:09pm

          I’m not sure I disagree with any of your statements, but I would say that when I think about addressing economic inequality, it would be on a societal basis. And I am all for us each trying to become better people – but that’s not what imo will make a real difference. You’re correct that enough of us have to want to address economic inequality to a) win elections and b) make those policies happen. I don’t know though – to me it doesn’t seem like people don’t know about the history already. Maybe this is because I live in the blue bubble. … Meanwhile, I am a little worried bc I feel like this window is going to close again soon – very soon – and well … I don’t have a big yen for psychobabble. Not that what *you* said was psychobabble … just, I feel like there is a lot of it going around. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. I prefer to try to talk about more concrete issues – bc *those* we might have a prayer of actually solving.

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          D.Morgendorffer
          6 Jun 2020
          2:38pm

          To my annoyance, I have misplaced my printed copy of a New York Times Magazine article that explains the inequalities intertwined in Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID). So, I have been looking it up and finally happened upon the title: “How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality”. I know MID doesn’t necessarily sound like a gripping, vital topic right now, but the thing is… Having family members both teach and attend HBUs, my family and I would attend events where we were the only white people in a well-filled auditorium. Sitting there, I was aware of my whiteness in a way I’d never been before: the experience made me realize part of a privilege is not having to think about whatever the privilege is, not having to be aware and watch yourself. So, the tax entitlements of homeownership are so woven into our system that it’s easy to not be aware of the privileges of MID. I was a renter most of my life and did not expect to ever own a house. So, astonished as I was to manage to get a house, I was not surprised when I read about how MID affects POC. As someone who lives in Montgomery, I certainly believe in the importance of conducting moral and emotional inventory on the individual and collective in this situation. I also believe some of the many nuts and bolts of oppression are in tax law nourished in the implicit belief that property owners should have better educational options and better healthcare.

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            Viajera
            6 Jun 2020
            3:15pm

            I know exactly what you mean about the NYT – same thing happens to me! And I hope I didn’t sound like a denialist about our entrenched racial issues. That at least, I am not. Often perhaps I am not optimistic that they can actually be fixed. If we try to address 400 years of cruelty and depravity, I feel that our prospects are quite uncertain. It’s a bit late for that. (Actually I support reparations … but only if they are done the way I want. Oh, and also we need more than one program for it. Separate one for Jim Crow, separate one for all the bleeped up mortagages … etc etc. All with a long shot of ever happening.) … As for the MID, well, I will try to look at that article in case I will learn something new – which does often happen with the NYT, God love the Gray Lady. Right now I think, well, compared to our military budget, it is probably lunch money. But I will try to find that, since you are so awesome generally. … Re the whole few in a room thing, I’ve done that too, and I agree – it was educational AF. Same with the time my friend got arrested. Alienation happens in an instant.

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              Jeanne
              6 Jun 2020
              8:40pm

              I don’t think you sound like a denialist. We agree that both of these are big contributing issues. Economic disparity is such an enormous problem to tackle. I think a lot of people have a very difficult time understanding the many, complicated aspects surrounding it (leading to another long-winded discussion about education and its defunding) Ironically, economic disparity is also fueling anger within the poor white community too. It’s just focused in the wrong direction. In any case, I enjoy the deep discussion so thank you for that.

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    Lynn in Tucson
    5 Jun 2020
    12:10pm

    Oh, that video. Thank you for sharing.

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    elise
    5 Jun 2020
    12:16pm

    Thank you for these links Kim – some great resources here. That video…wow – amazing!

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    Staci
    5 Jun 2020
    2:46pm

    Quoting Vladimir Lenin in your article ? Why would you do this?

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      Kim France
      6 Jun 2020
      11:48am

      I’m sorry if that offended you. He was an awful person who did loathsome things, and I obviously don’t subscribe to his notions. Maybe I shouldn’t have included that quote, but I thought it was a pretty apt description of what it feels like to be alive right now.

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        therealblonde
        6 Jun 2020
        2:00pm

        Actually, it’s not such a weird connection to make. Years before the Russian Revolution, he expressed a keen interest in the oppression of Black people. I looked into it this week, because I was wondering why all of a sudden he’s being quoted everywhere (like here). To my surprise, he already wrote about the plight of Black people in 1913, shaming America for not giving them complete emancipation and complete equality.

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    beth
    5 Jun 2020
    12:51pm

    Thank you for speaking up, Kim. This is really wonderful. I love what you are doing here.

    I want to offer another thought. You mentioned that your “life has been largely unaffected by racism.” I used to think that, too! And now I see something very different, and I feel pretty certain that as the thoughtful person you are, you’ll be interested to try it on.

    If we focus on the problem in the United States as “racism”, it can seem like that: doesn’t affect me because I’m white. If we shift, though, to see that the problem is the white supremacy that is the belief system leading to the racist thoughts and actions, then white people are affected every minute, all the time. This is really horribly difficult to do because “white supremacy” is a terrifying thing to say as a white person; I’m white, too. But I mean, what is the ideology that makes a person racist? It’s white supremacy. It can take a little while to take the charge off this, because thoughtful, liberal white folks usually think white supremacy is evil, it’s other, it’s someone else. But really, it just means thinking that white people are better than everyone else. And the United States is built on this idea.

    We might not feel affected by racism, but we are affected by white supremacy. Almost everything is easier for us because we’re white, and that ease comes at a cost to everyone who is not white.

    It is flawed to compare issues of sex and race; they are not equivalent oppressions. But trying it on for a moment can be a useful way to make breakthroughs, so let’s try this: women make less money and men make more. Women make less in order to make it possible to for men to make more. Men make what they think is normal precisely because women make less. White supremacy, while a different system of oppression, also brings benefit to those it serves: white folks at the expense of the those it does not: the nonwhite global majority.

    If I think the problem we face is racism, I might be able to see myself as free of blame: I didn’t make the world this way! I don’t like it! I was taught an entirely different story about the world! But once I get that the problem is white supremacy, and that this gives me the white privilege that makes everything easier for me, I have a responsibility to make change. I have to work to set down the privilege and ease that I have in order that others may share some of it. I have to be willing to have less that others might have more.

    I see you trying to make change! I celebrate your choice to fall silent and let the events of this week unfurl, to let others voices have more space, to think before you spoke. I love that you are speaking up, and oh my gosh, thank you for the video of that glorious, angry black woman schooling those white rioters. I want to vote for her!

    I hope you can hear that I intend this comment with love. It’s a recent level of understanding for me as well. It’s like looking at an optical illusion: “I’m seeing racism… but what is racism based on? OH MY GOSH IT REALLY IS WHITE SUPREMACY.” Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

    Been reading you since I was a kid; I’m just a little younger. I admire you and love you. I intend all this in the spirit of love and of all trying to grow together in this time where, as you so wisely note, so much is possible so quickly; decades this week.

    Love to all.

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      Karen
      5 Jun 2020
      1:54pm

      Yes. Yes. Yes.

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        beth
        5 Jun 2020
        3:32pm

        Thank you, Karen. I have never said anything like this in public before. I’m trying to learn to say things like this to other white people in this moment as an act of love and in a way that feels kind and can be heard. It has been such a gift when others have done this for me.

        It’s terrifying. My name is not beth.

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          Jenny
          5 Jun 2020
          3:49pm

          Thank you for standing up and speaking up. Your care and concern were evident, at least to me. This is a moment when white humans need to get uncomfortable with ourselves and with each other, and perhaps be less afraid of saying the wrong thing (I’m afraid of that! So afraid!) and more afraid of supporting the status quo with our silence (which I have done! and do still! and will likely do again!). We might suffer a little in doing this, but if we don’t, Black and Brown people will continue to suffer enormously.

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    Andrea G.
    5 Jun 2020
    1:36pm

    Kim — thank you for these links and for your thoughts. Thank you to all of the others for your thoughtful remarks. This site has been an especially good place for me these last few weeks. I always love it of course but now I am particularly grateful for all of you.

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    D.Morgendorffer
    5 Jun 2020
    1:34pm

    In all the great lists I’ve read, I have not yet seen A Black Lady Sketch Show mentioned. I love this show. The show’s intro song includes a puppet homage to Ntozake Shange. It has the funniest, most insightful sketches on beauty. Also, it has one of the most original adaptations of Romeo and Juliet I’ve ever seen. The cameo appearances are outstanding. If I say the show belongs to one of my favorite cultural categories, smart women having fun being smart women, there’s a chance the description might obscure the thoughtfulness of it all.

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    Dana D
    5 Jun 2020
    11:38am

    I am a white woman who teaches Black and Brown teenagers in a public city high school. Racism lives and breathes in our institution as it does in all institutions designed and maintained by white supremacist ideals. Honestly, I’ve been fighting institutional racism for 31 years. (and I don’t write this without acknowledging that the “white savior” mentality is a real thing, one to which I do not subscribe.) The saddest reality is that I’ve seen almost no movement forward in all this time. Black students in my district are as marginalized and underserved as they have ever been.
    (paragraph)
    In this moment there are two really concrete things that white women of privilege can do (besides read really good books and hand-wring). One-participate in your local school board and find out what students are reading in the classroom. Demand that the curriculum change. You might also fight for full integration of all “gifted” and “college prep” programs. For some reason white people look at education as if there is not enough to go around, so they demand the “best” for their own children and everyone else’s be damned . Two-put money in a Black-owned bank or credit union. Black banks can help support their local communities in ways that large banks never will.
    (paragraph)
    If this sounds bitchy or bossy, sorry-not-sorry…

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      Shannon
      5 Jun 2020
      12:07pm

      Great suggestions. Thank you for them! I’d like to share with my own circle of white women friends.

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      c.w.
      5 Jun 2020
      3:51pm

      I love all your Instagram postings, Dana D. Thanks to you, I’ve got a long list of books to read.

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    CallmeHal2000
    5 Jun 2020
    10:19am

    It is significant to me that young people are marching on the streets of my Canadian city. Young people have an abysmal participation rate in elections here. They are waking up. Maybe they’ll even remember to vote at the next election, and the one after that, instead of giving excuses about how politics don’t matter. Politics do matter. Politics are everything. Events this week have made this abundantly clear.

    This is not going away. Young people will be the ones to carry this forward. Non-participation is making a choice to allow others to decide for you. If you decide to let others decide, you are responsible for whatever they decide.

    Today a huge march will take place at our legislature, and the police have announced they will not interfere in peaceful protest. Meanwhile, our government has approved a law that removes the constitutional right to protest on public property and streets, including the legislature grounds. Many of the protestors today couldn’t be bothered to vote in the last election. What they are doing is about to become illegal, and subject to large fines and imprisonment, but I’m not sure they’re even aware of that. The ground under their feet is shifting. Choosing not to choose is no longer an option. All of us are going to have to make choices moving forward, and take responsibilty for those choices. We need to take our blinders off. We have to grow up and be counted and accountable. The era of non-involvement is over. Consequences are real.

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      Mary
      5 Jun 2020
      3:14pm

      Obviously, these protests are not going to help when it comes to Covid and this concerns me greatly.

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        Mary
        6 Jun 2020
        9:41am

        Actually, I’m not only concerned but angry. I realize it’s for a good cause but the protesters are putting lives at risk.

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          Liz
          8 Jun 2020
          9:58am

          The point of the protests is that we are putting black and brown people’s lives at risk daily through policy, inaction, and outright complicity, so the protests are necessary and more than justified. Even with COVID, no group has been more harmed economically or health wise than black and brown people. Also, while I’ve seen this concern raised, it also worth pointing out that those same people don’t seem to mind putting others’ lives at risk when they order from Amazon or have their groceries delivered.

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      Mamavalveeta03
      5 Jun 2020
      12:25pm

      Choosing not to vote is willingly disenfranchising oneself.

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      Mary
      5 Jun 2020
      10:26am

      Nothing drives me crazier than people who are too lazy to vote.

      And young age is decidedly not an excuse.

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    Bethany Siggins
    7 Jun 2020
    12:31pm

    THANK YOU, KIM! This is outstanding. Your links are always a highlight. We needed all of these right now. Much work to do.

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    c.w.
    5 Jun 2020
    7:47am

    Thank you for posting these links, Kim. For me living somewhere that has not had daily or nightly demonstrations it has been a week to reflect and worry and try to muster up some hope. My daughter posted on Facebook one of those head-jerk moments she had several years ago when she was touring in the South with her band. As she was walking through a crowd to get to the stage some red-neck jerk tried to pinch her bottom. She flashed around and gave it to him and he became aggressive so one of her bandmates, who is black, stood up for her and the situation fortunately dissolved. However, later, after the show he said to my daughter, “I love you like a sister and I will always stand up for you, but you need to know you put my life in danger.” He explained to her that as a black man in a bar full of mostly white people in the South it simply wasn’t physically safe for him to be aggressive toward anyone even when taking up for her. For my daughter it was a shinning example of her white privileged and how thoughtless she had been toward someone she loves when she had always thought of herself as a champion for equality. This week I’ve been relating this particular experience to my white friends to start that conversation of how so often we don’t recognize our privilege and what to do as individuals going forward. It’s a small thing, but we must all start somewhere.

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      Viajera
      5 Jun 2020
      12:59pm

      So, I am sorry that happened! Also … wondering, how was that your daughter’s fault? Bc she got mad at the bad person? Though I suppose she could have looked around for a bouncer … I guess that was just not a very well-run bar. Anyhow, glad no one got seriously hurt.

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        c.w.
        5 Jun 2020
        3:46pm

        reasonable question, Viajera, most bars don’t have bouncers. Not her “fault” in that she did anything wrong, but that she put her friend’s life in jeopardy because he felt he should physically place himself between my daughter and the aggressive drunk white guy in order to protect her. If she had just ignored the guy (very hard to do when someone is trying to pinch your rear) then nothing much would have happened. However, she is very much a person who calls people out and was not about to let some guy get away with trying to pinch her. However, because of this incident, she has come up with other ways to deal with these bar guys when she’s traveling.

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          Viajera
          5 Jun 2020
          8:03pm

          That’s *excellent* … I am all for creativity when dealing with jerks. Maybe they need to have a bigger band and make a phalanx or something. Or add a brass section… it’s hard to mess with a person with a tuba. Love me a brass section!

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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