I’m Black in America. It’s been a lot of emotions in these past few weeks. They are the same emotions that I’ve really been going through since I’ve been on social media, reading posts, and watching videos of Black people (most recently, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd) tragically dying unjustly at the hands of law enforcement and racist invididuals with the perpetrators rarely experiencing proper consequences. It’s been a constant feeling of simmering anger, sadness, and anxiety for years. These emotions are also interwoven into other aspects of my life, like my personal experiences of being Black in America, in the workforce, and as a husband and a father. For me, I spend a lot of time managing these emotions and feelings, and redirecting them into constructive actions and behaviors.
I’ve read a handful books on different forms and versions of slavery, on the lack of economic justice for Black people, and Black history in general. I’ve seen both sides of the slave trade in person. I’ve been able to really watch my daughter learn about her history at her predominantly Black preschool.
These all seem like a randomly strung together set of sentenecs, but a couple of things are clear to me, even moreso now than before. The institutions this country was built on have some fundamental flaws (and need correcting):
- The institution of policing, law enforcement, and criminal justice isn’t rooted in protecting & serving with equity
- Our public education system does not teach nearly enough Black history in schools
- Black people will continue to be economically disadvantaged, as a group, until several historical wrongs are corrected
I don’t have all of the answers, but if you are looking for what to do next, it starts with education. Here are a few books I’d recommend reading:
“The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.
“The Color of Money” by Mehrsa Baradaran
In 1863 Black communities owned less than 1 percent of total U.S. wealth. Today that number has barely budged. Mehrsa Baradaran pursues this wealth gap by focusing on Black banks. She challenges the myth that Black banking is the solution to the racial wealth gap and argues that Black communities can never accumulate wealth in a segregated economy.
“Black Wall Street” by Hannibal B. Johnson
Early in the twentieth century, the Black community in Tulsa- the “Greenwood District”- became a nationally renowned entrepreneurial center. Frequently referred to as “The Black Wall Street of America,” the Greenwood District attracted pioneers from all over America who sought new opportunities and fresh challenges. Legal segregation forced Blacks to do business among themselves. The Greenwood district prospered as dollars circulated within the Black community. But fear and jealousy swelled in the greater Tulsa community. The alleged assault of a white woman by a Black man triggered unprecedented civil unrest. The worst riot in American history, the Tulsa Race Riot pf 1921 destroyed people, property, hopes, and dreams. Hundreds of people died or were injured. Property damage ran into the millions. The Greenwood District burned to the ground. Ever courageous, the Greenwood District pioneers rebuilt and better than ever. By 1942, some 242 businesses called the Greenwood district home. Having experienced decline in the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s, the area is now poised for yet another renaissance. Black Wall Street speaks to the triumph of the human spirit.
A few articles that have struck a cord with me in recent weeks:
It’s Time We Dealt With White Supremacy in Tech by Tiffani Bell
Maintaining Professionalism In The Age of Black Death Is….A Lot by Shenequa Golding
The Fire and Rage of Black America Lives Within Me by Tiffany Amoakohene
Last, but not least, we can all do something immediately, offer our financial support to the causes we care about. Here are a handful of charities I’ve been giving to on a recurring basis and will be for the forseeable future:
The Human Utility
The Human Utility is non-profit organization providing help to families and makes sure they always have running water at home.
We are an organization made up of scholars, technologists, educators and parents who are dedicated to encouraging more girls to explore technology. We envision a world where girls are creators of technology and leaders in the technology industry.
We are a coalition of community-based groups, community leaders, and non-profit organizations committed to human rights. We came together in April 2015 because we knew from personal experience or were seeing in our backyard the need for accountability, equity, and transparency in Raleigh policing. We’re working together to educate our community on our rights and end racial profiling, selective enforcement, excessive force and harassment by police.
Additional Links to Charities to Donate to For Black Lives Matter
With all of everything going on, I love being Black. It’s powerful, beautiful, soulful, and flavorful. Remember, there’s plenty of space to protest, to educate, to give back, to mentor, to leverage your privelege to ally with others, and to vote. Choose something and do it.🧇