After 13 years of writing this blog, I find myself at a crossroads, where honestly I wonder does this space continue to have value? More importantly, what is the impact of my words? Are white readers feeling led to do more in their local communities and does my work bring a sense of community to BIPOC folks in predominantly white spaces?
DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) work wasn’t much of a thing when I started this space in 2008, but in recent years, a cottage industry of anti-racist and DEI writers and speakers have sprung up—though at the end of the day, substantive change still eludes us. I think one of the biggest barriers to actual change is that we still live racially siloed lives where there is little to no trust across racial lines.
As contributor Veronica Perez recently wrote in a BGIM post: “You can’t trust white people. As soon as their power and privilege is at stake, they deny anything, tell you you’re the gaslighter, and protect other white people. And a lot of these folx have Black Lives Matter signs in the front of their house, but they’re more dangerous than overt racists. They are the whites who will express support for BLM in the moment but as soon as their power and privilege are messed with—they scurry back to white supremacy and their safe, white neighborhoods.”
Given the number of folks who unsubscribed from the blog after this post went live, I suspect these words cut deep for a number of white readers. And yet, as a Black woman living through the last several years in this country, these words were a painful truth. In the last year, I have lost a number of “friendships” with white folks who last spring were loudly proclaiming that Black lives matter. I am sure they did believe that on some level, as long as we weren’t talking about the real-life emotions of real Black and brown people. As I discovered, I was “too much” for some of these people, even though I don’t really talk race stuff all that much in my day-to-day with friends. You see, it’s easier to care about Black folks as hypothetical beings than real people with real anger and sorrow in your vicinity.
In my work as the executive director of Community Change Inc., community has been at the core of our work for 53 years now. Anti-racism work requires accountability and accountability requires being in relationship with others. Ideally, we are in community with others, and communities of color have long understood the power and healing that is involved in pulling together as fellow humans and truly sticking together. But the rugged individualism of American life has meant that being in a community and grappling with matters of race don’t come as easy for white folks. While groups like SURJ were partially created to address that void, there is still enough mistrust of white people that the idea that white folks by themselves will do a deep dive on race is still considered suspect by many. Regardless of race.
As I ponder the future of this space, it dawned on me that while many have read posts here and felt moved, what has been missing is a true sense of community. It’s also what is missing from most of the popular anti-racism books and writings of the moment.
Given my work, and the larger moment, it seems imperative that we create spaces for going deeper in our work—spaces that strengthen our commitment to anti-racism work and can hold us accountable. Due to the ongoing COVID crisis, I will continue to work from home, which means that the speaking engagements that were once a part of my life are playing a lesser role in my schedule.
After much thought, I am launching two new BGIM initiatives.
One is a monthly reading group in which we will go beyond reading a book and discussing our feelings and into how the material can actually be implemented and incorporated into our personal lives to create an anti-racism work plan. The BGIM Book Club will meet the last Sunday of each month, starting Sept. 26 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. Eastern time. BGIM Book Club is open to all patrons of BGIM Media; if you are interested in joining me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details, including our first book.
I am also launching the BGIM Beloved Community Group. This group will meet the first Sunday of each month starting Oct. 3, from 4:00-5:30 p.m. Eastern time. The purpose of the Beloved Community Group is to discuss real-time issues we have in staying in the work and deepening our connections to one another. It’s meant to be social but also practical—it’s where we can discuss our racial missteps without judgment, but also with accountability and support. This group will be a pilot project. It is similar to groups that I have led as part of my work, and it is open to all races. However, depending on the racial makeup of attendees, we may break into racial caucus groups. There is a cost to participate: Five sessions for $125, and the group will be limited to a maximum of 15 participants. If cost is a barrier, please let me know, if you are interested, please email me.
For readers who truly want to go deeper, these offerings are designed to do that, and to help move you from talk and reading to action. The blog will still continue with weekly posts, though I may cut down on how many pieces we publish monthly. We mostly average six to eight pieces a month, and I am considering moving to five to six pieces on the public blog. In other words, a minimum of one new piece a week.
Lastly, just a gentle reminder, we pay our writers, and we pay for the infrastructure that allows us to operate both on this site and on social media where we share a minimum of three articles or other notable items every day. Unlike many, our work does not exist behind a firewall; instead, I trust that if the work speaks to you and you have the means, you will make a financial offering in support of the work. In recent months, as many deal with economic fluctuations and hardships, we have lost a number of patrons. While we are still holding on, honestly, today would be a great day to make a one-time gift or become a monthly patron and help us hang in there a bit more solidly.
I do hope that you will consider joining me for one of these new initiatives. I am excited to deepen my own practice alongside you.
If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.
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