I grew up in a very interesting town. Despite its proximity to San Francisco, or its name (Castro Valley), there were still quite a few stark contrasts when it came to talking about race, religion, and diversity in general among my friends and myself. Sure we had a diverse school, with plenty of first generation students hailing from Korea, China, Mexico, Russia, to name a few….but somehow racism was and still is a problem. Several weeks ago many Peace Corps Volunteers in Cameroon, including myself, started a social media movement: we changed our profile pics to this, in response to the police violence that has occurred recently:
I was surprised when a laughing face emojicon was the first reply I got, from a friend’s little brother who I had grown up with, and was practically my little brother. What ensued was a long Facebook thread, a debate between one of my friends back home, and two of my African American friends who were/are Peace Corps volunteers in Cameroon, people who had never met in person, and probably never will. By the time I got home that evening and checked my Facebook, I was amazed at what had ensued throughout the day while I was blissfully working at a summer camp, unaware. I thought of shortening the names for anonymity, however if you went on my Facebook page their comments are there in plain sight:
Laura Preston updated her profile picture.
I’ve complied a list of articles, studies and books I think would be great for you to look at. I understand your confusions when it comes to a problem this big and scary – racism is something we hate to talk about because it reminds us of a very sad and very embarrassing time in our history. But unfortunately, it still exists and the less we own it the more we suffer from it. The question now is how do we end it?
Well the first step, dear Kevin, is to listen, read, and be open and understanding to experiences that seem ridiculous to you.
Here are some articles I found through basic web searches.
Think of this one as BLM For Dummies:
http://verysmartbrothas.com/black-lives-matter-explained…/If you’re more of a magazine, light reading kind of guy here’s this from GQ:
http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/…/black-lives-matter-all…Huff post anyone?
http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/8078586Now here is rather heavy, but incredibly important research on mandatory minimums and racism in the law. I seriously urge you to read it. It’s a 15-page research paper put out by the ACLU.
-The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
-Between the World and Me, Ta-nehisi Coates
-Playing in the Dark, Toni Morrison
-The Color of Water, James McBrideAnd a quick response to “black on black crime” and your “what’s the black community doing for the black community” concerns – research programs in every neighborhood that deal with ending the cycle of poverty: school programs, pop-up health clinics, community programs, prison programs, credit unions and bank loans – all these programs are run by black people for black people. Community programs to raise the standard of living for our most vulnerable and hard to reach populations are run all around the country regardless of race. Asking the “black community” to step up is like blaming your mom for you not getting into to Harvard. There’s only so much we can do at home if the system itself is broken.Look, here’s the thing, Kevin. This is important. This is probably the most important thing our generation will have to deal with. I implore you to read, to delve, to understand your world – yes YOUR world – and to put your research into action. You’re on the wrong side of history, my friend. And the faster you realize that the more your voice will matter. The world needs you – step up.
After you’ve read, asked questions and thought please feel free to message me with more questions on how you can get involved. There are simple things you can do, like make a point to shop at black-owned stores, that actually do make a difference.Don’t let history leave you in the dust, my friend. At the very least, when you’re fifty and your kids have a project on the Black Lives Matter movement – you want to be able to answer their questions with accuracy. You want your kids to be able to feel proud of their dad’s involvement with the biggest human rights movement of his time. Make your kids proud of you, Kevin.
Laura Preston:disregard which part??