Something needs to be made abundantly clear:
There is an ACTIVE and UGLY war being waged on Black people in the United States of America. This war has caused an uncountable amount of Black people to pay the ultimate price; and it is upon the corpses and bloody backs of Black people that this country was built and continues to sustain itself.
This is not an opinion. This is not debatable. This is a FACT.
We live in a country where Black people continuously receive nothing, despite the fact that we gave and continue to give everything. Not only do we receive nothing, we are gaslit and told that we have no reason to complain - or better yet - that we should be grateful.
Let me make this abundantly clear:
There is an ACTIVE and UGLY war being waged against Black people in the United States of America. And guess what? Black people aint start it.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in this country, corporations and organizations have been flooding our televisions and social media feeds with catchy slogans and hashtags around the notion that we are “all in this together” and we are "healing at home" and "together apart" in efforts to keep us engaging with the content, and classes, and products. The political leaders and celebrities called it "the great equalizer.” Except Black people are being exposed to and dying from this virus at the highest rates in the country, with the least access to testing, healthcare, food, and other resources. And at the same time that Black people are dying from COVID-19, we are also being tackled, arrested and harassed by police for not following social distancing rules, or wearing masks properly; yet gaggles of white people tanning and picnicking in Prospect Park are being handed out masks by police and told to have a good day. We are not in anything together.
Silence has never been appropriate. Let me remind you that the founding of the United States, much like everything that came from Europe, was possible only due to corruption, genocide, kidnapping, and looting. There was and is nothing noble or brave about this country. Evil and racism is embedded in each and every fiber of it. Fact.
This is not only about the ongoing police murders of Black people, though that is what is causing so much uprising at the present and is one of the major aggressors of white supremacy. EVERYTHING is wrong about how Black people are treated in this country and I have no doubt in my mind that many of you, in some way, on some level, are guilty.
There is an ACTIVE and UGLY war being waged on Black people in the United States of America. And your silence makes you our enemy.
Black people are targets from the second we are born. Black people are targets before we are born, whilst growing in the uteruses of the Black women who die in childbirth at three times the rate as that of white women (see: maternal mortality). Black children are stripped of proper education, attending schools with old, raggedy textbooks and inadequate supplies (see: public school funding gap). Black people cannot be in the comfort of our own homes (see: Botham Jean; Breonna Taylor). Black people cannot go to church (see: 16th Street Baptist Church; Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church). Black people cannot buy homes and own land (see: Tulsa riots, see: redlining). Black people cannot go running, or wear hoodies, or be a child and play with a toy (see: Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice) . Black people cannot shelter-in-place or work from home (see: essential workers - food services, Amazon warehouses, public transportation). Black people cannot wear their natural hair to work, school or interviews (see: hair discrimination). Black people cannot go to the park (see: Exonerated Five; Christian Cooper). This Black person cannot even come close to creating and exhaustive list because there will never be enough time in the world.
(see: food deserts)
(see: school-to-prison pipeline)
(see: war on drugs/war on crime)
(see: discriminatory hiring practices)
(see: good intentioned white people/white libs)
(see: the Kardashians)
(see: Tuskegee experiments)
(see: white tears)
(see: SAT, college admissions)
(see: African Burial Grounds)
If it is not already clear. Let me reiterate:
THERE IS AN ACTIVE AND UGLY WAR BEING WAGED ON BLACK PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERIKKA.
As Nana Chinara mentioned in their Open Letter to Arts Organizations Rampant with White Supremacy, most if not all of yalls’ arts organizations are complicit in upholding white supremacy. When you are quiet and/or not explicit in your solidarity with Black people, you are complicit. When you don’t actively practice being anti-racist, you are complicit. If you are just posting a few photos and repurposing the work that was already done by a Black person, you are complicit. When you capitalize off Black bodies and art to secure your grant money, having classes taught by high profile Black teachers to increase viewership and popularity, collecting tuition from Black students to attend your training programs and intensives, and don’t step up and speak out publicly, you are complicit. When you jump at the chance to defend e v e r y o t h e r i s s u e, cause and campaign you can think of in this country, but time after time refuse to acknowledge and support Black people, you are complicit.
This is not about relationships or networking or reputation or status or aesthetic. The safety and well being of Black people surpasses that well beyond what you can imagine. I’ve called out my own employers, my own alma mater, theaters I’ve performed in, places I’ve been in residency at and places I have wanted to be in residency at, organizations I’ve interviewed at for jobs, and companies I’ve auditioned for. I don’t care who you are because it isn’t about that. There is a crisis. And there is no more time. Black people are being killed, if not by police, by everything else. And no one is paying the price but us.
Your Black employees are tired. Your Black performers are tired. The Black artists who sing and rap the Black songs you like to choreograph your appropriated Black dances to are TIRED. We are TIRED. And DYING. And yall are QUIET. And it is WRONG. Plain and simple.
It is not enough to do some programming here and there. It is not enough to attend one anti-racism training. It is not enough to host Black artists in your space (especially when your venue is staffed with an all white administrative team and tech crew). It is not enough to give a half ass anecdote in your newsletter, or an afterthought of a caption on a single post. It is not enough to have a Black employee, or a Black person pose as the face of your organization. This work has to be ingrained into every part of your organization and every part of your life.
I will not stop calling you out, so stop ignoring me. The dissonance is real and insulting. I will only up the ante. I will reach out to your directors and I will reach out to your boards. I will be loud. And I will take up space.
There is an ACTIVE and UGLY war being waged on Black people in the United States of America. There are lives at stake. And there is no more time to sit around. We can see you.
And for my white friends - Stop telling me how much you love and support me. That no longer means anything to me. Do something with your words. Do something with your money. Do something with your families. Do something with your social media accounts. DO SOMETHING.