07.06.20 | 5 Things I Learned this Week
It’s been a long time. Longer than I intended. Not because I wasn’t learning or reading or paying attention--though I did take a weekend or two off of news and away from my phone--but because even that felt inauthentic and stupid.
I read an article titled, “When Black People are in Pain, White People Just Join Book Clubs,” and it felt really bad to read, because that’s exactly what I was doing. I was patting myself on the back for paying attention to the rampant, systemic racism that this country was built on, the same awfulness that is upheld every single day. And I was like, “I’m reading, I’m here, I’m not racist, blah blah blah.” It felt gross, and I didn’t want to say anything about it or admit it.
So why now? Honestly, I don’t know. I guess it feels more useful to share the stuff I’m seeing/learning/observing/etc. on here than it does with a simple “share now” on Facebook. I’m still not sure what the frequency of this blog is going to be. My original intention was weekly, posted on Friday nights, but that hasn’t always been reasonable for me--my weeks are pretty busy. So until I get into a rhythm, it’ll probably be sporadic. Hope that’s not a dealbreaker. And as always, I hope this is helpful in some way.
Without any more rambling, here’s some of the stuff I’ve learned this week (and over the last few weeks).
01 | The Police Have Always Been Racist
I’ve been seeing a lot of people post/share that the original police were “slave catchers,” and that’s not untrue, but that’s not the whole story. The whole story is long, horrible, racist, and embedded in the capitalist mantra of property over people. I listened to a six episode mini-podcast offshoot of “Behind the Bastards” called “Behind the Police,” and oh man I learned so much. Cops originally protected property, took bribes, collaborated with criminals to steal, and were also “slave catchers.” The podcast explains it all beautifully, and gets in to how police unions are absolute trash and are a lot of the reason bad cops don’t get fired (or get fired and then REHIRED WITH BACK PAY). They also raise the question of whether or not the police should be unionized--are they really workers? Hm.
02 | All Cops are Bastards, Because the Actual Good Ones Have Already Left
You don’t hear a lot about why cops leave the force, and there are a lot of reasons for that, but I listened to an episode of “Factually!” by Adam Conover that talks to one of the few former cops who will say, on record, all the ways the force enables, encourages, and rewards the “bad behavior” we’re protesting against. The true Good Guys get ridiculed or leave because doing the right thing isn’t accepted. Take a listen. It’s a good episode.
03 | I Have Internalized that White = Default
Okay, not a big surprise here. I saw a quote that said “if you’ve internalized societal norms about your body, you’ve internalized ideas about race as well,” and well, duh. I have been noticing my patterns and biases that come out unconsciously, and one was that if I see an ad with all or mostly Black people, I think it’s something exclusively for Black people, but if I see something advertised with white people, I think it’s for everyone. I didn’t like realizing that about myself, but I’m glad I did because now I can address it.
04 | Etsy Has a Black Creators Category
I realized pretty early on in this most recent civil unrest that I don’t have a lot of art or decor in my home that was made by Black artists. And that was because I had never sought it out. It’s not great that I had to seek it out, but much like the point above, white is the default in that country, and it’s to our detriment. I started looking specifically for art made by Black creators and I saw so many beautiful housewares, paintings, digital prints, and jewelry. I’ve missed out on so much because I haven’t sought it out. Another win though, because now I will. Seriously, I’m obsessed with these beaded handle olive wood spoons (not on Etsy) and I bought a few digital prints from this incredible artist.
05 | Environmental Issues Are Racist Too
The theme here is--everything we built was built on a foundation of racism and white supremacy and its effects are still felt today. This includes environmental issues. We’re in a climate crisis right now (duh) and since I started working with a sustainability-focused PR firm (among other incredible jobs and clients), I’ve been paying more attention to environmental-related issues. Like, why aren’t brands/companies held accountable for the amount of waste they create? Why do we talk about recycling and waste reduction as a consumer/individual-only issue? You have to pay for recycling, but the companies that create the waste you have to deal with don’t have to think about it for one second? Not fair. But the bigger point is that communities of color live with 66% more air pollution and climate change disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color. A client shared these facts on their Instagram, but Vogue has a great article about this.