- Kelly King
The Buddy System
This week in America we all learned. We learned where we are in the fight for racial justice. We learned where we stand and what we're willing to do. Here in DC, we watched friends and neighbors assaulted by military and police while peacefully protesting. Oh, yeah, there's also the global pandemic. Still here. Still killing black and brown lives in disproportionately large numbers. Why? You know why. Systemic racism that supports white supremacy and feeds socioeconomic distress for all but the wealthiest, that's why. Right now, almost everyone wants change, but everyone is afraid.
Some white folks are afraid to even think deeply about dismantling white supremacy and confronting racism because they are afraid they'd have to "give up" something. Their wealth, their privilege, their "leg up" because of the whiteness of their skin.
This is scarcity mindset at its most lethal. Scarcity mindset breeds fear. And fear breeds stasis. People start fighting for "normal" because normal is better than nothing. Is it?
We all deserve better. I rarely use the word deserve. In this moment I use it purposefully; we all deserve better. One more time for the kids in the back: We all deserve better. Toni Morrison said, “Don’t you understand, that the people who do this thing, who practice racism, are bereft?” she continued, turning the question posed to her on its head. “There is something distorted about the psyche.”
“If you can only be tall because somebody is on their knees, then you have a serious problem,” she concluded. Mother Jones Article 8/6/2019
Watch part of the interview:
That was in 1993. 27 years ago.
President Obama's town hall yesterday highlights some possible solutions for those seeking police reform. It is 90 minutes of solutions-focused discussion well worth your time.
Here are additional resources for educating yourself and taking action for social justice.
And, here's me. In the first four minutes, I lead an exercise I call Fist Full of Emotions. Aysha Upchurch, Rhome Anderson, and Emily Arden host a weekly zoom dance party, The Party Line Zoom Room. Each week they feature a guest artist; last week, that artist was me. Each guest does a brief intro, then we all dance. They set this weekly party up to support artists who have lost their income due to Covid-19.
Please, watch the beginning and join me from wherever you are - we can all use some deep breaths and to focus on what we choose to hold onto and what we choose to release.
Am I a Toni Morrison or President Obama? Of course not. I aspire to be the best me I possibly can. I posted this to show you that you can do a lot. You can do something. Something you already do. Speak from your heart and act intentionally and thoughtfully for the betterment of all.
Don't do it alone. Find your buddy.
Emily is mine in this work. We have parallel artistic lives in many ways: she holds events that create the space for joy, change, dialogue, and cross-cultural celebration and education. I create movement, dialogue, and joy. Together, we have performed for and with each other in one way or another for almost 20 years. We show up for each other. And, we show up for racial justice.
This week, we were discussing our mutual need to step away from social media to rest, recover, and recuperate so that when we do jump into the public sphere we are mindful. And, at the same time, we feel a responsibility to witness what is happening in our communities and in the world. So, we made an accountability plan. 30 minutes of focused time off of social media, then five minutes of intentional mindlessness on the inter-webs.
This simple plan, an adaptation of the dance break method, gave us each a clear path to show up for our work and our lives on purpose. Checking in with each other led to sharing our grief and exhaustion. We held each other accountable, but more importantly, we held each other. We hold each other.
There is a compulsion to do right now. White folks are rushing to perform allyship. If you haven't been an ally before, stop. Listen to what people of color are saying. Think. Read. Form a group of other new and heartful allies (not your friends of color) to talk about your own racism. Then, engage. At that point, you'll have more resources, allies in action, leaders to follow, and accountability buddies to give you honest feedback. Make sure your actions are centered in what communities of color are asking for, not what you think is best. The Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond is an excellent resource for undoing racism training.
And, take care of yourself. Rest. This movement needs you. And, it needs you healthy, for the long-haul, not just for this media moment.
Find your buddy, and hold each other.