Okay, before we start, let’s establish some ground rules.
Rule #1) If you’re aware of and content in your racism, don’t even bother reading this. Please exit our website and unfollow @CLTBlackOwned immediately.
Rule #2- CLT Black Owned is a safe space for all. Here, we tell the truth…which isn’t always pretty, but we always share it with love and the idea that creating community moves change forward.
Rule #3- We don't point out problems for fun. We're solution-focused. We'll never talk about a problem and not provide some form of strategy to eliminate the if, so, if you read 'til the end, you'll see a strategy paired with the warning signs. You ready? This might get a little uncmfortable.
NOTE* - This list isn't exhaustive and isn't a sure-all "cure" for racism.
The 5 Easily Overlooked Warning Signs
1. You are afraid – whether you admit it or not – of black people.
Do you ever find yourself wanting to sit far away from black people in public spaces? Do you wait for another elevator because it’s too full…or because it’s too black? You feel an unexplained discomfort or anxiety when you’re around a lot of black people at once? We could go on and on, but that’s an immediate sign.
2. You don’t have a single black friend.
Okay, so this one doesn’t automatically scream racist, but it can be a telling sign. If you grew up in a place that was racially and/or socio-economically segregated – or if you’re older than 20 and grew up in Charlotte – it wouldn’t be totally surprising that your interactions with people of all races would be limited. That part’s okay, we get it. You can’t make a friend if you just never had the opportunity to interact. It’s logic, but, on the other hand, if you’ve had the opportunity to get to know and create community with people who don’t look like you and you simply chose not to…that's a warning sign.
3. You use the N word and you are NOT BLACK.
Do not. Do not. Do not use the N word. This includes but is not limited to nigga, nigger, nigra, and negro (in English). None of that. Not in a rap song, not in your home, not at work, not with your friends. In short, don’t use the N word. No matter the context or intent, when people who are not black use the n word, they are being racist. Even if you believe the “intent is different”, the use of the word is still refusing to acknowledge the pain and violence it’s use has ravished on black lives since the birth of this country. "But black people use it.." is also not an excuse for your use of it. We could say more, but we KNOW you get it.
4. You rationalize violence against black people.
Whatever the circumstances or controversies surrounding the death, you can rationalize it when it involves a Black person. “Well, he had a warrant”. “He shouldn’t have been drinking and driving.” “Well, she associated with convicted felons”, “He did look suspicious”, “But you couldn’t tell it was a toy gun”, “She did get a little too loud”, “What were they even doing out at 4am?”, etc. Be honest. Think back to every major news story over the list five years involving the death of an African-American person. Were you filled with pain, compassion, empathy? Or were you somehow able to "understand” or "justify" why the life was taken? Think about that.
5. You’ve decided to unfollow or stop supporting CLT Black Owned because of this blog post.
Has this article made you so uncomfortable that you’ve become upset? Have you begun to feel attacked? Are you considering unfollowing us? Shared this with a friend and said “wow, here they go again…making everything about race?” It’s cool. You don’t have to follow us or support our mission, but we do challenge you to explore why you may be feeling upset about what you’ve read so far. It is because one or more of these things is true about you? Is it because you don’t know what to do with the idea that you could be racist and/or a bit prejudice? Keep reading.
Strategies to help un-racist your mind.
1. Acknowledge your fear and actively work to dismantle it. Even though it’s likely complete irrational and fueled by the world’s constant predator-like coverage of black people, you still need to admit it to yourself. Then, seek positive images of African-American people. Seeing us as we really are – resilient, strong, joyful, intelligent, talented and full of potential- will help you unlearn the false information your subconscious has been taking in. Expose yourself to some blackness, it’s amazing!
2. Diversify your network- authentically. Please don’t post an ad for a “black friend” on Facebook. You can only understand or be informed by what you’ve been exposed to. Seek people different from yourself who you can build genuine community with so that you can learn and grow. Remember, be authentic. It might be awkward, it might be difficult, but if you allow yourself to interact with and be submersed in something other than what you’re used to, you will grow. For sure. Again…key word: authentic.
3. Don’t ever use the N word. This one will be short: don’t ever use the N word. Ever. It’s uncomfortable, it’s complicated, and it carries 400 years of oppression, pain, suffering, and violence against black people. Don’t use it.
4. Imagine someone you love. This will be extremely difficult to do. Each time you feel yourself having a lack of compassion or empathy for violence against black people, replace the victim with a person you love. This won’t be easy, but replacing the subject makes it much harder for you to rationalize. It makes it easy for you to understand why similar images or occurrences are so traumatizing, triggering, and just all-around painful for the black community. It’ll maybe help you understand the need for change.
5. Review the action steps. Admit where you can improve and act on those areas.