Wearing this shirt is a simple way that I can support the Movement for Black Lives. It also creates opportunities to do things that are less simple, such as addressing my own silence around issues of racial injustice. As a white person, I have learned to be silent about issues of race and racism. Part of my ongoing work in this life is to unlearn this silence, to speak out against it, and to leverage my body and white privilege in ways that support ending the violence that white supremacy causes black people, people of color, and white people too.
I noticed the uncertainty and worry I felt when I ordered my shirt. How would people of color respond to it? What might other white people think? And so often, these concerns keep us from speaking, from giving voice to issues of injustice in our daily lives. In addition to supporting the assertion that black lives matter, wearing this shirt offers an opportunity to notice the anxieties we hold around engaging in issues of racial justice (and which often prevent us from engaging more deeply), and to set them aside as we continue to practice humility and solidarity in even this small action of showing up in support of the larger movement for black lives and black power.
Becoming a mother has caused me to wonder about my responsibility in raising a white child. How can I empower my daughter to notice and name race, to have language for it and for the lived differences that people experience because of their skin color, to have language for systems of power, privilege and oppression, to negotiate her place within these systems and our responsibility for transforming them? Which white folks can we look to as role models in speaking and acting out against racial injustice? As I continue to negotiate my own place and practices in this lifelong work, I hope to support my daughter in doing the same, even as the answers are not always clear.
by Amanda Martin