In terms of accountability for doing the work of being actively anti-racist, I am going to start posting about what I’m doing more often and more explicitly, here on my blog.
As a way of organizing my thinking, holding myself accountable to make some progress each day and each week, and inviting conversation and feedback.
My imagined audience for this is specifically other white people who may benefit from seeing what practical actions are looking like for me.
Things I’ve been doing these past few weeks specifically:
- Sending money to groups and organizations doing anti-white supremacy work directly related to the current moment, like my local Black Lives Matter freedom fund (list of local bail funds) and the Minnesota Freedom Fund.
- Sending money directly to people: to the families of the Black people killed by police violence, Black trans people, to Black writers and artists.
- Sending money to Northwest Harvest, our state-wide food bank network, to address the immediate hunger effects of the pandemic crisis that’s disproportionately hurting Black people.
- Giving logistical support to people who are at the protests, and other help from home, since I’m not able to march in large groups right now.
- Signing petitions and other local actions around funding, decriminalization, prison and police abolition.
- Talking more than usual with non-Black friends and family members about race, and especially what actions are we taking, how we are holding ourselves accountable.
- Continuing to read a lot.
Besides in person conversations, I can reach a few thousand people on social networks like Instagram and Twitter, and a handful through this blog. Due to some unrelated issues that need my attention, I haven’t and won’t be spending much time posting on social media for the next while, but I’m going to keep paying attention and re-sharing when I can. I’ll be re-thinking how I engage and what I talk about.
In the short term:
- On Instagram the All Well account has almost 10k followers, and Amy and I made a post of some of the actions to support racial justice.
- For my Instagram sewing account, I am re-evaluating how I use it. When I started, it was a portfolio where I posted completed work and compared notes on technical details of seams and process with other people who sew. It’s not just that any more — with ~1k followers and being related to the commercial work I’ve done on making patterns, it has more reach and responsibility and I need to shift accordingly when I start sewing again.
- On Twitter I use TweetDeck to read what the many journalists, activists, organizations and scientists I’m following on there are saying. I still have a few thousand followers from when I used it actively, so I’ve been re-tweeting anti-racist things to share them more widely.
I’ve also been continuing to do, and re-committing to do more, of the things I’ve been focused on doing in the longer term. I've been thinking a lot specifically about money, conversations, and my two top of mind passions: reading + art/printmaking:
- This year I’ve been in the process of shifting my funding to smaller organizations that get less funding. For example, places like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood were places for me to start , but organizations that are smaller (like the Yellowhammer Fund for reproductive justice in Alabama) can have a more direct impact and don’t get as much attention or funding.
- Finding ways to participate in (and fund) community systems of mutual aid: I want to to participate in reparations in terms of my time, skills, and connections. (Here’s a local mutual-aid group, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, “prioritizing folks who are sick, disabled, quarantined without pay, elderly, undocumented, queer, Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color – including those displaced from Seattle to the nearby areas”, and here’s the direct donation link.)
- This shift away from larger non-profits has been influenced by many things, including my own volunteer work with non-profits. I want to specifically mention Vu Le’s writing on NonprofitAF. Some recent posts for example: white-moderate hoarding of assets under foundations (you can sign a petition to increase payouts for private foundations and donor-advised funds), and why non-profits need to fully embrace politics, and more here and here.
- I want to keep figuring out how to get more involved in efforts for political/policy based change at the local system level. What can I do here, where I am?
- I’ve been having and initiating conversations with white and non-Black friends and family about race and taking action and understanding our own racism. My family and I have looking at the ways we are complicit in and benefit from white supremacy.
- I’m speaking up when I hear (or say myself) something that I can see is racist, and trying to do my best to address things quickly and not let them pass by, and changing and addressing when I’m given feedback.
- Talking about what we’re doing, what we plan to do, sharing links and resources and things to read.
- Reading and talking about books by Black authors, literature and non-fiction, and not only “race” books. Reading widely is my main method for learning - I read a lot - and I plan to continue prioritizing this as I choose what to read.
- In terms of racial equity as the foundation of climate justice, in particular I’ve been influenced in my thinking by work from Mary Annaïse Heglar (for example Climate Denial by Any Other Name), HEATED and Wen Stephenson.
- One action I took last year was making an edition of 100 reading recommendation list bookmarks with those and other authors and passing them out. I want to do more with sharing reading recommendations.
- I’ve been focusing on buying art specifically from BIPOC artists and writers (printmaking, zines, and art books mostly), and will keep dedicating most of my art buying budget there. In the future I want to increase that budget and think bigger than just what I can personally buy, in terms of showing up and supporting other artists. I also want to write more about this.
- I’m in the process of getting set up with a risograph printer for ANEMONE — riso is a low cost way of making lots of prints, kind like a xerox machine that can make vibrant, beautiful screenprint-like prints, very fast. A lot of Riso Printers are offering free services for anti-racist protest use; Lea @lmnqe has compiled a list: https://bit.ly/printersforBLM.
- As I get started with ANEMONE, I want to actively work as a publisher and printmaker to share skills, access and resources with Black artists and writers. How can I help fund and distribute work as widely as possible, help facilitate artists/writers making money?
- In terms of short term goals (something I can do in the next year, a place to begin), I’m making a budget and figure out logistics for how to make 1,000+ art prints/posters for Black artists and community organizations.
Obviously I'm not writing any of this to suggest I'm "good" or not racist, when I talk about taking actions to counteract racism. I have a long way to go to examine and counteract my own internalized anti-Blackness and other types of racism, and make up for the problems and harm that my whiteness creates. So many of the things I do and don’t do perpetuate inequity. The past few years esp. I’ve made big changes in how and where I work, started giving up things/access/money, and am working on giving up more and taking more action, but it is just the very beginnings of what I need to do.
Writing this, I can see even more clearly how little I’ve done and how much there is to do, but it’s the place I’m starting from, and hopefully the process of writing it out will help make more progress.