Dear Friends and Family,
Today I have a specific goal for myself: to be specific in naming racism both outside and within me.
This was inspired in part by a conversation with my older sister and in part by a friend’s comment on the statement my alma mater Carleton College issued in response to George Floyd’s murder.
The statement Carleton and St. Olaf jointly issued was written about as vaguely as it is possible to write something. They neglected to call George Floyd’s murder a murder and instead called it an “incident” and more infuriatingly “a police-involved incident”. This brings into play what writer Yawo Brown calls “Polite White Supremacy“. In particular “controlling the language”. By being intentionally vague about racism, white people can side-step responsibility and turn the narrative into a victim-created issue.
I have been guilty of vagueness in the past, and I want to take measures to hold myself accountable to speaking and acting with intention. In particular, I want to send more of my money to black-led organizations and black people in general. So far I am donating to Black Lives Matter (the global organization) and a California-based group called the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (specifically the Oakland branch).
I hope to extend my donations to Black Visions Collective (a group located in Minnesota) and still looking for organizations in Idaho. I have also joined a reparations group on Facebook.
Other concrete actions I am taking: encouraging my city council member to divest funds from the Oakland Police Department; writing to Carleton College’s president to urge Carleton to divest from the Northfield Police Department; writing to my new city council member in Moscow to divest from the Moscow Police Department.
Stating specific goals and next steps helps to make action a reality. Specifically calling out racism (within and without me) helps prevent it from going unnoticed among my fellow white people.
To my friends of color, I know that I have failed you in the past and will fail you again in the future. I will do everything in my power to hold myself responsible for these failings and to improve as a friend and support system.
I am sending love to each and every person reading this.