Mostly, I’m going to keep my mouth shut in public about Black Panther. I want to leave the public opinion sharing to Black people. But, I do want to invite my white readers/peers/friends to see the movie and I want to tell you why I think you should (even if you, like me, don’t really enjoy action movies):
- Watch the movie thinking about how almost every other movie made by Hollywood is almost all white people with only minor characters who are Black. Imagine watching almost all movies almost all of the time showing almost no one looking remotely like you. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to put your feet in the shoes of Black people in a small way, while also being entertained;
- …and, related to that, it’s a glorious opportunity to just stare at Black people without feeling self-conscious or weird. We don’t get a lot of chances to do that. While it’s still a rare thing (and I’m sure you agree it shouldn’t be so rare), I think we should always take advantage of the opportunities;
- The appreciation of real African cultures comes through vibrantly, even though it’s all fictionalized. Think about how you *really* think of “African culture.” Do you place it on the same level as European history and culture? Do you even know about the massive variety of African cultures? (I don’t, but the movie helped me realize how little I know and made me curious to learn more.);
- Bring your children! and talk to them about all of these things. see what they notice on their own, see what they notice that you miss, relating to Black people in the US and racism.
I have so many, many more thoughts about the movie, but, again, I’ll keep those to my private discussions. For now, I suggest these reviews/discussions of the movie for you if you want to know more:
Listening to solid news coverage about the struggles of immigrants and refugees, I was struck today about how disheartening, depressing, and even traumatizing it might be for Black people (and, now that I’ve been thinking about it, for indigenous people in the US) to have excellent passionate and committed activism and news coverage about the current issues facing immigrants and refugees. Even if Black and/or indigenous people fully support the rights and causes of immigrants and refugees, I can’t help but wonder (and I suspect google would bear this out) if Black and indigenous people might feel once again as if they don’t count or are invisible to the “allies.”
What I mean is this: Black people in America (and indigenous people here) have been terrorized and brutalized for hundreds of years, but they’ve barely made the news. Or, if the issues they face make the news it’s either covered from a white supremacist perspective or it only flashes in and out of the public eye.
Later this morning I saw on twitter an acronym I didn’t recognize: “BIPOC.” Instead of asking the tweeting person what it meant (they are an indigenous rights activist in Canada, I think? and I’m sure are bombarded by white people asking them to explain things) I googled it. It means “Black, indigenous, and people of color.” From what I’ve read, it’s used to help center discussions and work related to racism on people who tend to be marginalized when the term POC is used. For example, POC can refer to anyone who has Black or brown skin (or who identifies as a person of color). But, in general, Black Americans have enormously different histories than do those people who have come here voluntarily.
These days, as I’m hearing about the important good work being done for our neighbors who don’t have documentation stating they are legally allowed to live here, every news story I hear or read I think about how many stories about Black people being arrested and jailed for jaywalking or being systematically shut out of every single institution in the country. At this point, I’m not doing much more than thinking about it, but as I was noticing it, I felt like I wanted to share it.
As always, these notes are quickly written and are by their nature not inclusive of all aspects of these complicated issues. But, I’d rather say something than nothing at all when I’m in a place where it’s appropriate for me to speak/write. (For example, writing on my own blog is an appropriate place for me to take up space.)
This past weekend, Shay Stewart-Bouley (aka “Black Girl In Maine“) was co-facilitating a discussion about cross-racial communication with her colleague and friend, Debbie Irving. A white man arrived at the event with the intention of stirring things up, believing his point would not be well-received. You can read more about the event, and what happened, here, and about Shay’s response here. The fact is, every time Shay speaks out about racism, she is putting herself in harm’s way. This is not an exaggeration. It’s not just uncomfortable work, it’s dangerous. She gets death threats regularly.
When I saw some news coverage of this hostile man’s disruption at what was meant to be an honest dialogue about improving communication, I was furious. I wrote a letter to the editor (you can read that here) because the piece, as Shay said, shares all kinds of thoughts the hostile white man had and the reporter didn’t even interview Shay to get her take on it. She is the one who was put in a position where she didn’t feel safe (based on life experience she had reason to know the man might snap at any time), but the reporter did not tell the story from her point of view.
I’m writing this post to remind my white readers, my white friends and peers, that there’s a lot we can do to make our country a better place to live for people of color. One simple thing we can do is to contribute financially to the work done by people of color like Shay (and the writers she pays) who not only share their ideas, their life experiences, but they also risk their physical and mental health if they openly work against racism.
I’m feeling especially frustrated right now. See, I love going to New York City. One of my favorite things in the world is to walk around Manhattan without a plan, go to a museum or two, and wander.
I’ve been feeling significantly better lately. I can cook dinner even when my eight year old wants to talk to me. My 14 year old can listen to music on the radio while I’m driving. These are big deal improvements.
But as I plan a trip to the city, I realize I still need to restrict my activities because of the concussion recovery. It’s so frustrating.
Scanning with my eyes is still very tiring. Multi-tasking is still not second nature like it was before. Something that before would have been simple, like taking a bus from my uncle’s place into the city, feels daunting. I could do it, but it would be difficult and very tiring. Maybe it would be worth it? Or maybe I’d be better off waiting until I’ve gotten even farther along in my recovery.
The crash happened in June. It’s been a long time. I thought I might be done by now. As I said, I’m much better. But I still don’t have my life back. It’s tempting to focus on how powerless I am here (I can’t speed up the recovery), but the occupational/physical/speech therapists all helped me (and still help me) remember that I’m much better than I was before.
I’ve started a new activity in speech therapy that is focused on building multitasking skills. I tried it on Wednesday and it felt like I was lifting weights with my brain. I have high hopes that this tool will help a lot.
I’ll keep my trip to NY really simple. I’m grateful I feel up to traveling at all.