We break from our regularly scheduled “Camp” theme for this special piece.
Given the recent, horrific, bizarre and revealing events in Ferguson Missouri, we asked two of our regular TueNight contributors, both close friends — Heather Barmore and Stacy Morrison — to have a brief online chat. We asked them to talk about Ferguson from their own perspectives, black and white respectively. Here’s what transpired:
Let’s do this thing.
As I typed that my stomach turned over. It’s so upsetting.
It is, and yet it’s good to see this community finally feel empowered to do something.
I agree on that. And to see that complicated and complex conversations starting to happen.
People who I don’t normally discuss race are outraged and saying something.
But conversations also don’t even feel like enough. I really wanted to get on a plane on Monday. I emailed churches. I reached out to community organizers. I wanted to see A THOUSAND WHITE PEOPLE down there in a line facing the (white) police. I still do.
On the one hand I can understand the need to get there now, but on a practical level I wonder how much more people can do without contributing to the chaos. That said, I am still happy that people are finally feeling the need to discuss and willing to be educated about race/educate themselves instead of relying on their black friends
Right, asking our black friends to school us on all things race, as if it belongs to you exclusively.
Exactly. Also? We are not a monolithic group.
It’s so strange that we white folk convinced ourselves that because there are educated, successful, brilliant, visible black people in every part of American life that that somehow meant racism was behind us. The persistent urge I have seen for us to just brush it away and say, “Oh, no, that doesn’t happen in MY community” has been amazing to witness. AND even better, it’s been amazing to see that start to come down, just a bit, with Ferguson.
But yeah, totally post-racial.
Feminista is my hero. She has been my hero for a long time, for everything she is, but man…..But all the free-flowing HATE. I don’t understand why HATE is the expression of FEAR and that which we choose not to understand.
And there are people out there who refuse to understand or simply cannot understand that black people are human. That is another thing I have found disturbing: The number of signs during the National Moment of Silence that professed the humanity of blacks. It’s devastating that it needs to be said.
Yes, a belief based in some deep-seated sense that black people will TAKE SOMETHING from them. What else could it possibly be? It is devastating that it needs to be said. BLACK LIVES MATTER
I still have to tell people that I matter.
Which blows me away. You’ve been a friend for so long and you have so much to offer…..But I would never have said, “Oh, I don’t even think about the fact that she’s black.”
Well, I am definitely black. Though I was told plenty of times in middle school that I wasn’t “really” black but that’s another story…
I see you as Black. And I try not to talk too much about your hair.
I like to say that it’s mine in that I paid for it
But Kelly Wickham’s piece “Calling Out My Sisters” really created a radical mind shift for me. I realized I was not being the ally I could be. I realized that I was afraid of saying the wrong thing. Me. AFRAID OF SAYING THE WRONG THING???? That is bizarre to me. That I silenced myself that way.
And you are very outspoken which is shocking to me as well. I know several women who heard that piece during the Mom 2.0 Summit and took it upon themselves to get educated.
I just had never realized that I was more worried about saying the wrong thing, about looking as if I thought black people needed HELP or were less than….
I get that.
Instead of seeing it from the perspective I have now: SEE RACISM, NAME RACISM, CALL OUT RACISM, MAKE IT UNCOMFORTABLE TO SAY RACIST THINGS.
I want people to realize that discussing racism isn’t a bad thing, but don’t expect the black people in your life to do all the work for you.
Also, call out your racist uncle!
That’s why Ferguson has helped. So many good perspectives coming out on how to be a #WhiteAlly. I don’t have a racist uncle (thank god), but I have long been able to bat racist comments back at those who would say them around me.
I just wonder if these conversations will continue when this is all said and done…
It’s simple. You pause. You take a breath, you look the person in the eye and say, “I find that comment offensive.” And then you shut up.
EXACTLY and thank you.
And let the uncomfortable that they made me pass back to them. I think of it like handing the pile of shit they just spoke right back to them. I once had a new boyfriend of a dear friend say “Wow, that Stacy has an edge,” because the night he met me one of his friends said a few completely offensive things and I couldn’t let it stand.
It’s all about speaking up. Speaking up and shutting that crap down is one of the first steps.
The second step is what? Broadcasting injustices like Ferguson?
Yes. Broadcasting injustices.
I have had the strangest empathic reaction to Ferguson. Every time I pass a Black person in a store, or on the street or whatever, I want to look at them and say “I’m sorry” like some CRAZEE WHITE LAYDEE.
HA! Don’t do that.
I know, right? But I *am* sorry. My heart hurts.
Well, I will pass that message along but really, you are doing the right thing by not ignoring things that happen.
I’ve been borderline sick since Ferguson started because I literally have not been able to believe my eyes and ears.
It’s hard not to read the news coming from there and not be completely burdened by it.
The horror that so many Americans feel comfortable focusing on the few “good cops” or who are donating money to the police officer…. which is essentially rewarding him [the officer] for shooting a teenaged black boy in broad daylight six times in anger. Unarmed, I forgot to add.
I discovered the ‘We Support Darren Wilson’ Facebook group this morning.
Yes, and the fundraising site. Which I saw yesterday. But SO MANY GOOD THINGS have been said.
I mean, he will have legal fees but perhaps not shooting someone SIX TIMES would have prevented that. The good things are what I am focusing on.
Like people talking about their own moment that they discovered how deep their white privilege actually runs.
I have disengaged from many a conversation because it isn’t healthy.
Or people talking about when they realized they contained racist opinions, even though they thought they were enlightened or whatever.
Which has been an eye opener for me, to see so many realize their privilege
Being able to acknowledge that it is a human tendency to see differently has been critical too.Because, ironically, I think if we can see that that trigger reaction is within us all naturally, not because we’re shitty people or haters, and that it is something we have to actively work against, then we can start to have a real conversation.
What is so imperative here is that it’s not about changing human behavior but to acknowledge that people are human beings.
The pretending, the pretending that the Civil Rights Movement fixed anything, that attitude set us back DECADES.
Which is sad.
We have this bizarre national belief that if you have been successful in life that means you are GOOD. WTF?? And if you have not succeeded, it must be your fault. And therefore, you deserve no help. That attitude exists for: single moms (you should be married), rape victims (you did it to yourself, you brought it on), black people (we won’t even start that list)….Life’s left turns appear out of nowhere, and we can expect to feel dizzy and disoriented when the path isn’t clear. But then, we have the rare opportunity to listen to ourselves and think: Who am I meant to be? And then redirect toward that. THAT is success. Not money. Not career. Not resume.
I’m trying to think of something equally as profound as that. So, I’m just going to say YES.
And actually, if America were better at not constantly rewarding those who are already rewarded, more of us might believe that. And therefore, be more accepting of those who aren’t like us. But I’m in an idealist. I own that about myself. Not a head-in-the-sky idealist; a feet-on-the-ground, dirt-under-my-nails idealist.
I am not an idealist. I should work on that.
I will never stop believing that I can make a difference in how people see themselves and each other.
And I will never stop believing that people can be empowered to make change in their communities. On that note, I must depart because I have an angry mother and house guests on the way.
Nothing scarier than an angry mother!! Though the things we have witnessed this week have been pretty ugly. And also, beautiful.
I am a little more hopeful. Really.
We can make a difference. We can. Let’s just keep reminding people that. And I, for one, and going to do all I can to show the way.
And people need to be reminded that they are affected and can participate in any way even if it’s just speaking out.
“Just” speaking out is VERY POWERFUL, because in America, white people like me unintentionally got QUIET about race. We need to STAY LOUD. You’re good at loud. I am, too. We’re ready for this.
My favorite phrase is “stay woke.”
Love you! Fight the power! Or, uh, something like that. xo
HA. Talk soon!