On one of the grassroots Live feeds last night (and I can’t remember if it was St. Louis or Atlanta because I was watching several at once), a young black woman spoke of how good it was to be out in the community, caring for one another on the streets and letting their voices be heard – not only by those in power, but also by those around them.
There is power in community – and it was a joy to be in (careful) community with some friends at the White Birminghamians for Black Lives vigil yesterday.
We gather for justice – and to make a statement about vitally important issues. That’s the primary point.
But we also gather in support of one another – in solidarity, kinship, and friendship.
Weaving the bonds of community – acknowledging and manifesting the reality of our interdependence – is a key function.
When we can do that in person, it’s an extra blessing.
But we also do that work online all the time as well – and especially in this time – and that makes it even more accessible to people who can’t make it in person (which is any of us at any given time).
One additional note of awareness: caring relationships in community are built upon truth, mutuality, and an awareness of differential power.
So if you are white, realize that it takes time and repeated demonstrations of humble, genuine commitment to create trust in relationships with Black, Brown, and other folks of color – and they may still never fully trust us. That has to be okay. We have given them every reason not to trust us. We need to continue the diligent work of being trust-worthy anyway – and without having to get public or private credit for us. The responsibility is on us.
This can be hard. We want people to like us (I certainly want people to like me) – but “us” is always present in the context of broader cultural conditions. We best deal with that through our awareness of it, not by pretending it’s not there or ducking the responsibility.
And of course that matrix of power persists in all of our relationships – straight folks with LGBTQ+ people, affluent folks with poor people, people currently without disabilities with disabled folks, cisgender people (straight or LGB+) with trans people, and so on.
Just as there is intersectionality of marginalization, there is also intersectionality of privilege – and each of us needs to be aware of the power we wield.
That doesn’t mean there can’t be real kinship and friendship across differences, but it does mean that when we have power we need to be aware of it and bear the responsibility of being and ever-more becoming trust-worthy.
Doing that self-work is a part of how we care for our neighbors – and a part of how we continually build those communities of solidarity, kinship, and friendship.
This is the 2nd post in a series today – and an ongoing series that can be found under the tag race