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What we read: June 5, 2020

As the protests continued throughout the week, white liberals showed up on social media brandishing Martin Luther King Jr quotes to protest “violence and looting.” While I’d like to suggest a general moratorium on white folx using MLK Jr quotes in general, definitely think twice if you are using them to counter efforts for racial justice. As this article from Refinery29 outlined, a more outraged response to the protests than to the murders is telling of the pervasiveness of white privilege.

In response to concerns about looting, Activist Tamika Mallory responded in a speech in Minneapolis, “Don’t talk to us about looting. Y’all are the looters. America has looted Black people. America looted the Native Americans when they first came here. Looting is what you do. We learned it from you. We learned violence from you. So if you want us to do better, then, damn it, you do better.”

U.S. president Donald Trump responded, instead, by threatening to invade his own country if governors didn’t violently quell the protests.

Bitch Media posted a timeline of the immediate events leading up to the protests. As a reminder, the murder of George Floyd is perhaps the precipitating event of the recent protests, but there have been numerous police killings and not just of Black men (e.g., Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police; there is a high rate of killing trans and cis women as well such as Nina Pop). With more about the protests, this piece from Yes! did a wonderful job highlighting ways protestors showed up for Black Lives Matter across the United States.

One of the things I penned last week was a letter to white women, which was why this article from Jezebel gave me pause. In it, author Emily Alford suggested that those essays are a form of self-aggrandizement that seeks to elevate oneself over authors in a position of being a better ally. I’ve really appreciated the perspective and thinking about it – after all, as I posted on twitter Monday, “there isn’t an award for being the most woke white person.” It simply isn’t about us, where “us” is white women.

On Tuesday, the hashtag #blackouttuesday trended as allies tried to show their solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the anti-racist movement by replacing their profile picture with black or posting a black picture to their social media feed. As organizers had to explain, the key for solidarity was to post the picture and avoid using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter as the increase in posts would drown out needed information. By the end of the day, it seemed like most people and companies had stopped using hashtags that would dilute the messages of those who were sharing critical and important information. However, there are valid critiques of the blackouts, especially those that wonder how, exactly, posting a black box is going to contribute to actual change.

The movement to amplify Black voices is bigger than one day, however, and there is a movement to amplify melanated voices on Instagram. We’ll share more about how we are going to do that here next week, but the point is to mute white voices, even those working to promote social justice, in order to amplify and give credit to Black, Brown and Indigenous voices.

I appreciated the conversation about how the environmental movement is related to and must align with Black Lives Matter, racial justice, and systemic reform. First, Gizmodo broke down the relationship between the environment and police reform. Importantly, Grist broke discussed the relationship between environmentalism and racism, which is and will be an important thing to acknowledge if we can work together. After all, while national parks are championed as a conservation success, those parks are on indigenous land, and the legacy of colonialism persists in the treatment of indigenous communities and peoples and the creation of those monuments. And from Mother Jones, an article about the structural racism that has resulted in the disproportionate impact of COVID19 on minoritized groups in the United States.

Finally, one of the ways that we can support Black lives and show that Black lives do matter, this article outlines ways to find and support Black-owned businesses. Sending business to Black-owned business is a great place to start.

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