A Pause: Black Lives Matter
A break from our regularly scheduled programming to discuss more important issues
The past week, beginning with George Floyd’s murder last Monday and coming to a crescendo with this weekend’s protests, has been incredibly painful for us all.
Today is very clearly not the time for a typical Not Boring essay. Instead, I want to share brief thoughts, my support, and some resources.
I always try to be as honest and transparent as I can with you. Normally, that’s relatively easy - sharing growth metrics and goals, being open about the emotional rollercoaster that writing in public has been. It’s harder to figure out what to do during all of this.
I’m a white dude who writes a newsletter explaining business strategy through current events and pop culture. What’s my place in this? Will saying something make any difference? Would it be easier to just keep my head down and give my quiet support?
I don’t know, a very small one at most, and yes.
But I realize that I’m privileged, and that if every privileged person says, “I support the movement, obviously, but this might not be my place,” nothing is going to change. And things can’t stay the way they are.
I’m outraged that Black people have to fear for their lives when they deal with the people whose job it is to protect them. It’s more dangerous to do nearly everything as a Black person in the US, from something as small as going to Starbucks to as big as having a baby. Even a pandemic that was supposed to be a great equalizer has disproportionately impacted Black people.
I’m outraged that Donald Trump is the President of the United States, and that instead of using his pulpit to heal, he’s using it to divide and incite violence in order to squeeze a little more support out of his base. I’m even more outraged that it works.
Systemic racism is shameful and immoral and it needs to stop. And for that to happen, non-black people need to want it just as badly as Black people do.
I don’t know if I’m doing this right, and I recognize that writing a newsletter about this is just one step above tweeting about it. This has to be a starting point, not all that I do. As I think about what else I can do to support Black Lives Matter as a non-black person, this thread has been helpful.
#3, “use your voice!” pushed me to write this instead of saying, “this isn’t my place.” This e-mail is not the most profound thing anyone’s written on racism, and it’s just an e-mail, but better to write something than stay silent.
@byersfilms also encourages non-black people to educate themselves and donate. I’ve provided a few resources and links below. Please add others, and your voice, to the comments.
Killer Mike’s Speech
Killer Mike’s speech should be taught in schools in the years and decades to come. The rapper and activist is a powerful orator, and managed to say all the right things despite the emotion of the situation. Watch this.
Five quotes hit me particularly hard:
“Now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize. It is time to beat up prosecutors you don’t like at the voting booth. It is time to hold mayoral offices accountable, chiefs and deputy chiefs.”
“I’m mad as hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burn down yesterday because I’m tired of seeing black men die. He casually put his knee on a human being’s neck for nine minutes as he died like a zebra in the clutch of a lion’s jaw. And, we watch it like murder porn over and over again.”
“We don’t want to see Targets burning. We want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism burnt to the ground.”
"So after you burn down your own home, what do you have left but ash and char?"
“We have to be better than burning down our own homes because if we lose Atlanta, what else we got? We lose an ability to plot, to plan, to strategize, to organize, and to properly mobilize. I want you to go home. I want you to talk to 10 of your friends. I want you guys to come up with real solutions.”
Anti-racism Resources for White People and Non-Black People of Color
Frankly, that’s most of us on this e-mail. This Google Doc has 86 resources, from books, to movies, to podcasts, to Instagram accounts, intended for white and non-black POC who want to deepen their anti-racism work.
I can’t second the recommendation of Just Mercy highly enough. Bishop Desmond Tutu called its author, Bryan Stevenson, “America’s young Nelson Mandela.” The book exposes the appalling injustice still rampant in the American justice system. Even though cerebrally I knew things weren’t good, Stevenson’s story made me feel it viscerally.
My Favorite Newsletters by Black Writers
Yesterday, Web Smith tweeted “hire the person or wire the investment.”
I write a newsletter and am not an investor, so hiring and wiring aren’t on the table right now, but I do want to highlight the five Black newsletter writers from my thread on my favorites last week, who I read religiously. Subscribe!
Reggie James’ newsletter, Product Lost, wasn’t on my list but should have been. Yesterday, he wrote a beautiful reflection on his experience that you should read, Thinking Black Excellence Would Save Me.
I’ll never ask you to donate to something that I didn’t donate to myself. Here are the three non-profits I’ve donated to that you might want to consider supporting.
Equal Justice Initiative - Led by Bryan Stevenson, the author of Just Mercy, EJI is focused on ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment, challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting basic human rights.
Brooklyn Bail Fund - The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, like the EJI, “is committed to challenging the racism, inequality, and injustice of a criminal legal system and immigration and deportation regime that disproportionately target and harm low-income communities of color.” It pays bail for presumptively innocent New Yorkers.
Black Lives Matter - Donate to the fight to end state-sanctioned violence, liberate Black people, and end white supremacy forever. Black Lives Matter.
I don’t know if I did this right. I hope I did, and if I didn’t, please hit reply and let me know. There’s a lot more work to do.
One thing that all of us can and must do: VOTE. Register here, only 155 days left.
That’s all for today. See you on Thursday.
Thanks for reading,
Source of George Floyd Illustration: https://www.instagram.com/ANDRESITOGUZMAN/