On Waking Up

Dustin texted me last week and said, “I think we’re becoming activists.” I sent him the cry laughing emoji because, LOLOL are we? 

Seven people were murdered wrongly last week. Seven. Not five.

My insides are literally itching and screaming and thundering for equality. For justice. For (white) people to wake up. For the church to WAKE UP. It feels like it’s burning inside of me. I want to scream it. I want to shake it into people. BLACK LIVES MATTER. Not because white lives don’t. Not because blue lives don’t. Not because all lives don’t. But black lives matter because it wouldn’t happen to me. Because I’m white. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION. 

The reality is that this country is different for people of color than it is for you and me. Period. The stories that we’re all hearing? They are real. Period. The fear that people of color have of law enforcement? That is very, very real. Period.

Jesse Williams said recently in his BET awards speech:

And for the life of me I cannot understand why we find this hard to grasp.

Black America is hurting. And the question I keep asking myself is do we even care? Do we, white America, even care? 

Because here’s the thing. I’m glad your pastor talked about racism on Sunday. I honest to God am. I’m thankful he was brave enough to say “black lives matter.” I love that there are prominent people calling us to love and kindness and prayer. I’m thankful there is a stirring among white people who previously had not been stirred. 

But here’s the other thing. If we stop there we’ve done nothing. 

My fear is that we’re over here simplifying all of this in the name of love and kindness and hugs. We need more of all of those things. So much yes. But the deal is systemic racism is real. White supremacy is real. Oppression is real. Discrimination is real. Racial biases are real. Racial prejudices are real. White privilege is real. People being killed because of their skin color is real. White people not knowing or being taught their own real history is real. 

There is a real racism problem in America and it starts with ME and it starts with YOU. 

I’ve had a handful of people ask me over the last few days what to do about all of this. And here’s the thing: I don’t really know. We don’t have this figured out. I don’t think we ever will. We wake up daily and have to check ourselves. We are constantly reading and listening and sitting at the feet of people of color learning from them. There’s not an end to all of this. But I can tell you what we’re doing to stay awake and maybe you can do the same. 

We ALL have work to do. White, Black, cops. White people it’s time to do our own work. Like actual uncomfortable work. We can’t expect anyone else to do this for us. It’s time to wake up. 

This is just a start. The lists are endless. There will forever be books to read and stories to listen to. There will always be the work of checking ourselves and holding each other accountable. We will never just arrive I don’t think. Let’s do the work and let’s do it well. In the name of Jesus. In the name of love. In the name of our Black brothers and sisters.

Diversify the people you follow on Twitter and Facebook. Here are a few we follow:

Huffpost Black Voices 

Judy Wu Dominick 

Shaun King 

Raising Race Conscious Children 

Equal justice Initiative 

Showing Up For Racial Justice 

Diversify your bookshelf. I’ve given this list out before but seriously just pick one up and read it. 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson 

Who’s Afraid Of Post-Blackness by Toure

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander 

The Beast Side by D. Watkins 

How To Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

The Autobiography of Malcom X 

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Diversify your kids bookshelf. 

The Skin You Live In- Michael J Tyler

Ten Little Finger And Ten Little Toes- Mem Fox  

He’s Got The Whole Word In His Hands- Kadir Nelson

The Peace Book- Todd Parr 

The Family Book- Todd Parr 

Same, Same But Different- Jenny Sue Kostecki Shaw

What I Like About Me! 

It’s Okay To Be Different- Todd Parr

Anna Hibiscus Complete Collection- Atinuke 

A few things you can watch and listen to (these are all killer):


When One Mother Defied America: The Photo That Changed the Civil Rights Movement




It Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White

I just finished reading How To Be Black by Baratunde Thurston. It was part memoir and part comical self- help book. Now, not to state the obvious but I’m white. You might find yourself wondering how a white girl ended up with a book about being black. I found out about it through an article in the paper where it was another white girl’s answer to “What books are on your bedside table?” I went to the store immediately.

It was quite a funny read. I laughed a lot as he told stories about growing up and set some stereotypes straight.

It was also a quite thought-provoking read. I found myself thinking a lot about people and the world. About race, discrimination, and segregation. About history, the ways the world has changed, and the ways it’s still the same.

It has me currently thinking about if racism and discrimination still exist and why.

I can remember growing up, seeing and hearing about racism and it bothering me. I remember asking questions and being unsettled by the answers. I have recently had comments made to me and around me that make my heart beat really fast, and I have to take a deep breath before I respond. I hear jokes throughout the halls of my middle school and it makes my heart feel heavy and sad.

I can remember growing up, seeing and hearing about discrimination and it bothering me. I have heard statements made about people’s race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation that don’t sit well with me. I have made my own ignorant comments about people based on their religion that I regret saying. I hear jokes throughout the hallways of my middle school that make my stomach hurt.

I find, on a middle school level as well as with adults, it’s harder to dislike someone you have a relationship with. It’s harder to talk trash, judge, or make gross jokes about a group of people when you have a friend in that group of people.

I don’t know how we change racism and discrimination. I have a hunch it has something to do with love, understanding, Jesus, and building relationships. I think it might involve getting out of our comfort zone and experiencing other people and traditions. We might have to get over ourselves and our beliefs for 5 minutes and listen to other people’s stories. If we did I think things might just be a little different. I don’t know though.

What do you think?

… Courtney