First off, this is a technically a playlist post, but I’m going to ask you to read my words before you grab the tunes at the end. (I promise, they’ll wait.)
Unless you’ve been living under a large mossy rock, you know that there have been protests all over the US (and the world) regarding police brutality towards black people and racism in general. And yes, this is a jewelry company and honestly, I’d love to stay under my mossy rock and just think and talk about jewelry all the time, but I just can’t. It’s obvious that people are hurting and when I see people hurting, I want to understand why and see if I can help. No one wants to see their son or daughter or friend killed. And honestly, when I see a name trending online every week or two with the same type of tragic story, it’s hard to ignore and I’m done ignoring things. Something’s rotten and it’s far past time to start fixing it.
A Spell Has Been Broken
Obviously black people have been being killed by police before and there have been protests, but this time feels different somehow. The protests are still going weeks after the impetus, George Floyd’s death. Right when they started though, I was surprised to see white friends, influencers and even brands start talking about racism. It was weird and wonderful. I’ve been trying to talk to friends about things like white privilege and implicit bias for years and almost always would get shut down and treated like some socially awkward weirdo (true, but still...). But now, for the first time, it seems like people were open, listening undefensively and trying to figure out how to help. One black acquaintance said that it felt like a spell had been broken. That phrasing really struck me, not only because I’m crazy about fairy tales, but because that really must be how it feels to black people. For so long, they have tried to tell us (i.e., white people like myself) about racism and the usual response was they were just whining or only a few old people and bad apples were racist. For black people to suddenly see white people be receptive to their worries about the police, about the lack of representation in ads and movies and their absence from the decision-making tables must be truly strange and surprising. It’s like we’ve all admitted that the emperor really is naked and has been trotting around with his dingle out this whole time and now we’ve got to figure out what to do.
I’m no expert on racism, so I’m not going to outline a five-point plan or tell you what to do, but I will tell you what I’m doing. From what I’ve learned, most racism is NOT perpetrated by dudes wearing pointed hats. Part of racism is structural, meaning that things were set up a long time ago (when the white pointy hats were much more active and accepted) to purposely to tilt the playing field in my favor to the disadvantage of black folks. The other part of racism is implicit biases, which are things we learned and act on, but we don’t realize because it’s unconscious. So first thing is educating ourselves. I’m currently reading a really good book, called Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. I’m about one third of the way through and already can wholeheartedly recommend it. The book is broken up into 28 very short chapters, each about a different aspect of racism and at the end of each chapter are a few questions for the reader to answer in her own journal. I have been very surprised to find out some of my hidden beliefs. I don’t want to believe these beliefs – they’re awful, but I can’t get rid of what I don’t know about, so step one is figuring out how I can be a better ally to my black friends and neighbors. There are a lot of other resources, so I encourage you to pick one of them up and try to read with an open mind, undefensively and with a healthy dose of empathy. It’s not about you – it’s about how we can all try to make this a better country for everyone.
The Fun Bit
Okay, thanks for reading all my words. Now for June’s playlist, I wanted to do something for Juneteenth, which refers to June 19th, and is the day that African Americans celebrate emancipation from slavery. It was in 1865 when a Union Army general read the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas, thereby freeing slaves in the last slaveholding state. Honestly, it’s sad that it’s not an official Federal holiday. I’d never even heard of it until my twenties when I worked as a secretary at a church that was very active on racial reconciliation. In that spirit, my playlist is called What’s Going On, after the first song in the playlist, that Marvin Gaye protest classic. All of the songs on the playlist are protest songs by African American musicians, from the 60s to now. There’s a variety of songs and styles - from Nina Simone to Childish Gambino - but I think they fit together as one cohesive unit. There will probably be some songs you know and maybe some that are new to you. I hope you enjoy this playlist. Music is healing and we could all use some of that right now.