I posted this on Facebook in Brian Crooks’s feed but I wanted to bring it forward. It is for Brian, of course, but it is for his many white supporters who hear what he says and ask “how can I help?”
Dear FB Friend Brian,
I can’t claim I ‘know’ other than as a FB friend, but can I presume to speak?
First, to say this: you do not owe anyone a single moment more of your time, your energy, your passion, your emotions, your concern, your interest, or yourself. You have done enough–more than enough–in your attempt to explain to deaf people and dead hearts that you indeed are a human being, a man, a person of worth and value and talent no matter what else people might think.
You have given of yourself in honesty and grace and compassion, and you have found many people who responded to that with matching grace and empathy and concern. And that is a good thing.
And you have also received much inconsideration and hostility, even outright hate, not just for speaking up about controversial issues, but because you are speaking up at all and being noticed and admired.
That hatred and pushback is enough to make any man tired and angry and drained.
It is time for you to be with loved ones who will embrace you and love you, who will let you be and let you heal, and then, maybe, you will return. That is up to you. No one has earned a single moment more of you.
Second, let me say this to people like me–white Americans who are perhaps seeing the glimmer of what it is like to be 24×7 a black man or black woman or black child in America: It is time, right now, to turn to our own selves and stop this nonsense of allowing the racists to have the loudest voice. It is time, right now, to speak up and act up, in every situation, so that the right things happen.
It should not be people like Brian who are exhausted and confused and angry and in despair because they are speaking up about their own self-worth, and speaking out about the need to love and cherish our brothers and sister, or who are trying to breath life into the most lifeless situations.
It should be the racists and the haters and the dividers and the breakers who are exhausted and confused and angry because they are isolated and mocked and refuted and dismissed. It is those people who should be removed from their place of having a voice to hurt others, who should be turned away from polite company, who should be escorted from the presence of decent people, who should be silenced when they attempt to control the conversation.
This is what we can do, white people: we can speak up and interrupt every conversation we are in where this nonsense occurs even if it is uncomfortable for us because it breaks social norms.
Someone like Brian is a good guy, and our silence is making him and his goodness a difficult thing.
Rather than expect him to try harder to be “gooder” and more pleasant and more engaging so maybe white people will maybe give a little, it is up to us white people who are decent and good and hopeful to speak up and silence bigotry and hatred in our presence and in our communities.
It is time to choose to exclude these haters from our lives and our interests. It is time to boycott businesses and people that mock the pain of people like Brian. It is time to say, out loud, that we will not abide by the racists and racists attitudes in the people and businesses around us — to say this, out loud, every time it happens.
You want to do something to help Brian, white people? Don’t just feel bad for him and his pain (although please do have the human decency to see him for what he is and why it is monstrous that he is so maligned).
Do something with your own kind. With us. Make it so that racism and hatred and division and destruction are the hard things to do. Make racism a thing that is abhorrent to all, and shout it down, cover it up, shove it away.
Make the voices of people like Brian and others the dominant voices that we listen to and admire.
Support businesses that support Brian and people like Brian. When you come across a business that appears to be indifferent, push–vocally–to make them speak out about standing with people like Brian, and if they refuse to commit, then pull your dollars and shop elsewhere.
White people should be doing more than feeling sorry for people like Brian. 400 years of feeling sorry hasn’t done enough.
Time to be movers and shakers, and to make the demands that we as an American people stand united for the good of everyone, including Brian and all the people he attempts to tell us about.
Time to stop expecting black Americans to fix this problem that we white people created and have kept running for 400 years.