A Tip Of The Hat And A Fist Raise To All The Anti-Racism Activists Past, Present, and Future

23 Dec

light-brown-raised-fistI want to give major props to all the activists out there fighting the good fight. The good, hard, exhausting, frustrating, dangerous fight against racism. Personal racism. Systemic racism. Institutional racism. Jim Crow racism. The New Jim Crow racism. And every other kind of anti-Black racism in-between.

See, I’m like a baby taking its first steps when it comes to learning what it means to organize, to march, to protest, to take concrete political action to fight against racism.  Before this year, the only two things I could put on my activist’s resume was marching in the 1992 women’s pro-choice march in Washington D.C. to protest the near overturning of Roe vs. Wade, and that time I was ten and me and my childhood friend Wanda Malinowski watched the 1970’s TV movie, Women In Chains, about women in prison. We switched the theme up for feminism, took our handmade posters and walked circles around the green in front of our houses, chanting: “WOMEN IN CHAINS!” “BREAK THE CHAINS!”

Now I’m just one of a bunch of white folks who have finally gotten upset enough over the more visible racism that Black people have been living, and trying to tell us about all these years. While I’ve been writing about race relations and racism for about ten years, my engagement in political action is recent.  I might as well consider myself as riding the wave along with the post-Presidential election activists who are fearful of what’s to come for, not only people of color, but for the immigrant, Muslim, and LGBTQ communities, too. Oh, and let’s not forget women’s rights, and the threat of strict anti-choice measures.

So, I’m reading friends’ posts on Facebook instructing me on which political leaders I can write to fight certain upcoming legislation, and push for others. And, I’ve been going to the local Resist Hate meetings and the local White Noise Collective meetings here in Providence, Rhode Island, and learning what it means to organize and take action. It’s been four meetings so far. All of them were packed in attendance–from 100 to 500 attendees–and at times I found it hard to focus, to take in all the information, all the voices, all the categories of things to fight for and against, to figure out where I fit in, what I had to offer.

The meetings, held on the East Side of Providence where I live, had a majority of white people in attendance. White Noise Collective, after all, is an organization of white people who are standing up for racial justice, so that makes sense.  At the Resist Hate meetings, there were mostly white people, but there were people of color in attendance, too.  Some of them spoke about needing white people to fight for racial justice, because we are the ones who created the racist systems and structures, and are responsible for dismantling them, and for bringing attention to the cause, that as we know, so wrongly, does not get the attention it deserves when only Black people voice their concerns.  I believe as Martin Luther King, Jr. said that white people’s freedom is bound with Black peoples’, and with all peoples’ freedom.  If one of us isn’t free, none of us are free.

And yet, I also saw a few, slight, side-eyes, and hints of mild skepticism from some Black people at the Resist Hate meeting. I have to say I can’t blame them.  The Black woman and Black man at the school cafeteria table I sat across from at that first meeting have been community activists for thirty years.  I know there were white people, too, at these meetings who have a long history of activism, yet, we have to admit, that it is the election that has brought many of us out for the first time to rise up and act. If I myself wonder how many of us white people will still be coming to the meetings six months from now, I can only imagine some Black people aren’t holding their breath either to find out if we’ll keep showing up to fight the fight.

As I wondered this, I recalled being tired after finishing work at the psych hospital and running down to the second Resist Hate meeting right afterward in the freezing cold. It was not appealing, but I went. The night of the second White Noise meeting, came after a day of work, a non-profit Board meeting, and non-stop rain. Again, I was not initially feeling it, but I went. These gatherings got me excited.  These gatherings also overwhelmed; left me mentally exhausted. So that’s what got me to thinking that just getting myself to a couple of meetings was an effort.  That this is work. And that activism doesn’t care if you are tired, or have a job, or have kids, or are worrying about how you are going to pay next month’s rent, or that it’s cold out.  And, surely, I can’t be white girl whining about just a couple of meetings. Activists committed to a cause are working tirelessly ALL THE TIME.

And so, I give a grand tip of the hat and a raised fist to all the anti-racism activists who have been working forever and a day for freedom and equality for all of us. I salute you.

To the civil rights movement activists we  know:

 

 

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer (courtesy of The Daily Beast)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (courtesy of Seattle Times)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the civil rights movement activists we don’t know:

Domestic Workers Civil Rights Movement

Hidden Figures: Domestic Workers Played Important Role in Civil Rights Movement (courtesy of AAIHS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the civil rights activists who didn’t get the chance:

Fred Hampton

Fred Hampton (courtesy of socialistworker.org)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the women activists deemed dangerous:

Free Angela Davis

Angela Davis (courtesy of amusejanetmason.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the activists who founded Black Lives Matter:

Black Lives Matter Founders, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi

Black Lives Matters Founders, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi (courtesy of fortune.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the white civil rights activists who came when Dr. King called:

Viola Liuzzo and Sarah Evans

Viola Liuzzo and Sarah Evans. (courtesy of Sally Liuzzo-Prado)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the Waking Up White activists:

Debby Irving

Debby Irving, author, racial justice educator (courtesy nhpr.org)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the artist activists of yesterday:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the celebrity activists of today:

Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams (courtesy of HuffPost Black Voices)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To activists borne out of tragedy:

Michael Brown, Sr., Lesley McSpadden, parents of Mike Brown

Michael Brown, Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, parents of Mike Brown (courtesy of Intl. Business Times)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the social media activists of today who you know:

DeRay McKesson

DeRay McKesson (courtesy of bkhiphopfestival.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the social media and real-life activists that you may not know…yet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the activists who live around the corner from you (literally), who you don’t know:

Marco McWilliams

Marco McWilliams, activist, founder of D.A.R.E. Black Studies Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To local activist organizations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To local arts activism organizations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To local theaters who support activism:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To activists-in-training:

Leni, AS220 made BLM t-shirt

Daughter, Leni, wearing Black Lives Matter tee made at AS220

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is just a handful of countless thousands who have given, and continue to give their lives to fighting racism and injustice. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

One Response to “A Tip Of The Hat And A Fist Raise To All The Anti-Racism Activists Past, Present, and Future”

  1. Sherry Gordon December 26, 2016 at 5:03 pm #

    Dear Wendy Jane,

    Well, hello, there, Wendy Jane, my so, so very For Always awesomely special and so, so very dearly precious For Always soul sisterfriend who you’re For Always so, so very much, sister!!!!!! Sister, WOW, what a beautiful, absolutely beautiful blog post article here of yours very brilliantly and sensitively composed straight from your so, so very dearest and darling, precious and special heart and spirit with your deep love for us as black persons, sister!!!!! Sisterfriend, you are as usual as always my and our right on, wondrously wonderful white woman who yearns with all that you have with all of your very being to be an ally in great solidarity, to work alongside us as your dearest black sisterfriends and brotherfriends as we resist oppressive systems and oppressive people like with racism, racial disparities and inequities, and discrimination. Sister, I am just absolutely thrilled, happy, and overjoyed at how you are going to and participating in the great meetings in your marvelous Providence, Rhode Island like with the very empowering Resist Hate and White Noise Collective, Wendy Jane!!!!! Wow, Wendy Jane, you have gone straight to this black woman’s very heart and spirit with this, and with all you do so, so very well in such a very fine and excellent fashion trying so hard in such a diligently conscientious manner!!!!! Sister, you are so right on when you very wisely share and declare here that white people’s freedom is bound with black people’s freedom, and that if one isn’t free, none of us are free. My sweet white sister, we are all in this together for sure, Wendy Jane!!!!! Wow, I am just so, so very thrilled, overjoyed, and happy, too, to see our awesome Leni with her very cool so full of spirit Black Lives Matter tee-shirt. Wow, she is one very spectacularly awesome young woman with a very superbly super Mom, too!!!!!!:)!!!!! Sister, your great pictorial tribute to the Civil Rights Movement activists both greatly known, known on a lesser level, and some who are unnamed in history is just absolutely fantastic here,and very empowering, Wendy Jane!!!!! I love this, sisterfriend!!!!! My friend, what beautiful pictures which you have chosen with very super captions, too!!!!! Sister, i tip my hat and raise my fist to YOU, my awesomely special and precious, right on white woman, sister, and friend, Wendy Jane!!!!!!:)!!!!! It is wondrously wonderful white women, and other splendid white people like YOU, dear, dear Wendy Jane, who keep this black woman keep on keeping on in keeping my very faith and hope alive with such a positive optimism!!!!! I thank-YOU so, so much, my so, so very dearest and darling friend, Wendy Jane!!!!! Along with you and others, sister, I pay tribute to these remarkable activist from the Civil Rights Movements past, present, and future in this absolutely amazing pictorial of yours, Wendy Jane!!!!!!

    My friend, I am saddened when I know that there are very much inde3ed black persons who do not have confidence in white persons that you all as white people can be counted on to come through and to stick with this very process of resisting racism with how there are definitely black persons who are skeptical. Well, let me tell you, my so, so very dearest and darling friend and sister, Wendy Jane, this is one black woman with yours truly who would never ever give up on YOU, precious, precious Wendy Jane, and not give up on other white persons, either!!!!! I have such complete confidence in YOU, Wendy Jane, and in other magnificent white people and faith and belief in all of your potential for and actual great good. I am here for you all as super white persons and you all can for sure count on me to have your backs and to very delightfully and eagerly cheer all of you on and to root for you and to believe that each of you can come through and try your absolutely very best in our joint efforts and struggles against racism!!!!!! Yay!!!!!! This black woman is definitely not cynical and I am definitely not skeptical toward YOU, Wendy Jane, and toward other marvelous white persons!!!!! Wow!!!!! Yay!!!!!

    Sister, I am still not feeling 100% better but I am starting to feel a little bit better from being sick-UGH!!!!!! Very joyfully reading your very endearing, sweetly lovely blog post article which affirms and validates me as a black woman and also does so in acknowledging and recognizing other black persons as you so love and cherish us has helped me to feel better and with even more cheer, Wendy Jane!!!!! Responding joyously with my very heartfelt, detailed, and thorough thoughts, ideas, and comments is my very, very joy and blessings, and YOU, sister, are my and our very, very joy and blessing, sister!!!!! Wow, I thank God continually for YOU, Wendy Jane, and that you are my so, so very dearest friend and sister!!!!!! I love you, sisterfriend so, so very much, Wendy Jane!!!!!!:)!!!!!! Please continue to enjoy Chanukah with blessings upon blessings for you and for you and for you and yours, Wendy Jane, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!! Sister, you are just the very best and the greatest and the very, very epitome of such very, very overall awesomeness, Wendy Jane!!!!! Sisterfriend, I’ll do all of my responses the way I usually do as soon as I am able-I just can’t wait and I am just bursting with such delightful and eager anticipation until I am able to do so, my sweet friend!!!!!! :)!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my so, so very For Always sweetly special and precious soul sisterfriend who you’re For Always so, so very much, Wendy Jane, with Such Peace and Love For You For Always sister of mine, and with Such Blessings and Such Even More Blessings For You For Always, friend of mine,

    Yours For Always soul sisterfriend black woman and For Always in the very great spirit and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa

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