Over 28 million people flooded social media with a black square for #blackouttuesday a year ago. 28 million people witnessed George Floyd brutally murdered and knew it was wrong. Something clicked in the heads of white America that day. Maybe white people recognized the need to speak out against racism in our country…
So, here we are, one year later and what has changed? I would argue that nothing has. I would also make the claim that things have become more racially tense. So, let us unpack for a moment performative allyship and why posting a black square was enough for white America.
If you are white and reading this, walk through a hypothetical situation with me. You wake up, forgot you ran out of coffee and are late to work. You jump in your car, race to the store, run in, grab your coffee and you’re on your way. I would guess that even if you sped to the store you did not get pulled over and if you did, you’d probably live to tell the story. Upon arriving to the store, disheveled in your pajamas, I would say with certainty you did not get followed up and down the aisles. I make these assumptions based on very real-life experiences. Growing up, I tested boundaries and got away with A LOT. Did I get tickets for speeding? Sure. Did I get out of a bunch of them? Yep. Did I get pulled over after a few drinks? I did. Did I receive nothing more than a lecture and told to get home safely? Yep. I also recognize that there are many people who have gotten tickets or arrested for similar actions, who are white, and I agree with that outcome. But, was I shot for driving drunk? No. Were friends of mine shot for not complying with an officer? No. Are these same friends all white? Yes. You get the picture.
So, if white America all of a sudden had some racial awakening one year ago today, what did they do about it? I am sure on an individual level there are people out there who have done “the work”. I know there are people out there telling their Uncle Bill why his jokes are racist. I understand that many of you watched the documentaries and read the books, but what real change are you fighting for? How are you actively dismantling white supremacy that is embedded in every institution throughout America? How are you cultivating change in spaces that have the power to flip these systems? Have you written your school board to suggest the teaching of accurate history? Have you urged your place of employment to require anti-bias training? Have you paid attention to local politics and wrote to/called representatives when you hear of something damaging being passed in your state, such as the anti-riot bill in Florida, or the critical race theory bills being considered in 16 states right now? Have you insisted on change in regards to policing in your community? Have you explained to other white people when their words/actions harm people of color? There could be a list a mile long of ways in which you can be a coconspirator in the fight against racism; these are simply some examples.
For Kind Cotton, it has been increasingly important to put books in the hands of children by BIPOC authors. We have made it our mission to purchase books in which children feel seen and represented (something that is often lacking in public schools I have taught in). Our state of Florida is in the process of implementing a bill that will silence educators in teaching the truth of racism throughout America’s history, so we find it more imperative to ensure children in our local neighborhoods have access to books that they can identify with.
One way we're doing this is by partnering with Black Lives Matter Manasota Alliance to put a free library into the Oneco Market (more info on this to come...stay tuned!) Our latest release, The Black Square Classic Tee, is going to not only pay for the free library, but will help stock it each week with books written by BIPOC authors, all thanks to your purchases! Not only that, but this tee was also created to remind you that true activism requires consistent action, not just performative social media posts.