I had not meant to delay my response this long but family and other stress provoked a migraine that has persisted for over a week. However, I do not want to be silent about racial injustice and discrimination in the U.S. now or ever. As a disabled, white American woman, I still have an immense amount of privilege and always have because of being white in America. However, sometimes I feel absolutely useless (I don’t say powerless because as a white person I do know that I have a lot of power) in the face of such inequality and discrimination that is so entrenched, especially as a disabled person. I am so in awe of the protestors and their bravery in the face of such danger and hate. I wish that I could join them but I cannot. I am physically unable to use my body to protest.
Instead, I am donating to organizations that support the protestors, like the various bail projects. These groups provide bail for those who cannot pay, often black people and people of color, who, as a result, are jailed for something they have not yet been tried for or convicted of.
I also believe that everyone deserves health care—mental and physical—and should not get care based on their ability to pay or whether they have health insurance. I will continue to support those organizations that provide health care to black people and people of color, who in particular need providers who understand their lives and experiences. I am lucky to have a therapist who herself has a chronic illness and can understand what it means to be a chronically ill/disabled woman. I want that so much for everyone. The feeling of sharing your struggles with someone who actually gets it is something I want everyone who needs or wants it to have. I am so grateful there are organizations out there making this possible. We need to support them to do this work!
The health care system, and access to it, in this country is also a systemically racist institutional system. Unlike many, I have health insurance. I am not discriminated against based on my skin color when I seek medical care. I do not have to defer routine care because of income or lack of access to credit and loans. When I have painful procedures or see a practitioner, I am offered narcotics for the acute pain from the procedure or to manage my chronic pain. I don’t need to worry that I won’t be prescribed pain medication because the medical system stereotypes me as a drug addict. I don’t have to suffer the physical and mental pain of racism day in and day out. I don’t have to worry that when I have children racism will have stressed my system so much that I am more likely to have premature children or health complications from childbearing and childbirth.
The list goes on and on.
I teach about racism, sexism, homophobia, religious-based discrimination, and other types of discrimination and how they permeate various institutions and structures in the U.S. and the world. There are so many amazing people studying and writing on this topic. There are also some great lists being spread online. Please private message me if you want to learn more about the academic world’s contributions to fighting racism and other types of discrimination. I don’t pretend to speak from or understand the black experience in America, but having had the privilege to study these topics and teach them, I want to do as much as I can to help people learn more about systemic racism and inequality in a way that I can, which is to share information.
Authors, books, and articles:
- Crenshaw, Kimberle. (1991). “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color”. Stanford Law Review 43(6), 1241-1299.
- This is the original work that describes intersectionality and how important it is to recognize the different ways that different facets of one’s identity put you at risk for different types of discrimination, which is especially true for black women.
- Mario Barnes of the University of Washington’s work on Stand Your Ground laws.
- Song Richardson of the University of California at Irvine’s work on discrimination in the American justice system.
- Craig Futterman, et al., ‘They Have All the Power’: Youth/Police Encounters on Chicago’s South Side, Univ. of Chicago Public Law & Legal Theory Working Paper No. 573 (2016), pp. 1-27
- This article details the oppressive effects of police brutality and racism on the lives of young black Americans in Chicago.
- Paul Butler, Chokehold: Policing Black Men (2017)
- He addresses the dangers of police brutality and legal injustice that all black men face, even the wealthy or privileged, which he experienced firsthand.
- White Fragility and other works by Robin DiAngelo
- Her work does an amazing job of explaining why it’s so hard for white people to talk about race.
- Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild
- This extremely well-researched sociology text explains why so many white voters vote for and support far right-wing groups, even when, or especially when, those groups are racist. It doesn’t ask us to condone them but to understand them and their fears so we can better understand why they continue to support these far-right groups, and often Trump, and the challenges to change in so much of the country as a result.
Some of these are difficult texts to read, emotionally and literally. Message me if you have any questions about them or want to talk about them! I’m hopeful that these protests are ushering in a more open period in which we discuss these hard topics and by talking and learning about them start to act more to change things. I’m trying to continue to learn more and more about these topics too. It’s an expression of historical privilege to live a life that is ignorant of or oblivious to these issues, and white people like myself should work to challenge that privilege.