Insta-politics

Dana Scutz Emmett Till racism
Dana Scutz Open Casket. Portrait of Emmett Till.

I watch in horror as America comes undone. Anti-racism protesters meet police brutality meet COVID-19. No leadership emanates from the White House, just promises of more violence to come.

Social media feeds me diametrically opposed calls to action. One Instagram commentator says silence is an immense privilege that can imply acquiescence. Another says to shut the fuck up and listen for a change.

What do I do?

Many of us want to express our outrage at systemic racism and our solidarity with the protesters. Blackout Tuesday was one attempt. Black screens on social media rather than cute kittens or homemade bread. I don’t doubt for a second the good intentions of those who posted. But the campaign turned into an algorithmic failure, drowning out all the substantive posts on protests, protesters and ways to help.

I didn’t post a black screen on Tuesday. I haven’t liked any posts or attended any demonstrations. Until now, believing myself to be anti-racist seemed like enough. I’m a person of color. That makes me an ally, right? But I’ve never been tased or lost a child to a lynching. I don’t know what it’s like to be black while birdwatching. The universe of things I don’t know is vast and deep. It paralyzes me.

What can I do?

I want to be thoughtful. I want my actions to make a difference. After the Parkland school shooting in 2018, I chose voter registration. Can I do more?

This blog is a platform. I can use it to amplify voices wiser than mine. Someone who can figure out how to prevent the next George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor or the millions of black men, women and children whose tragedies don’t make The New York Times. Let their deaths not be in vain.

Here are two reading lists. Katie Couric‘s focuses on facts: articles, books and documentaries on anti-racism. Emma Watson‘s highlights fiction and nonfiction by Black authors, curated from her ongoing project, Our Shared Shelf. Maybe you’ve already read all these thinkers. If not, will you join me?

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