Facebook Black & White

As a librarian for young people, I tend to prioritize literature, believing that introducing great books to my students will inform them and cultivate them to become reasonable, compassionate, and socially conscientious adults.  Adults who will make a difference in our world and our collective future.  And that is also why this particular blog was set up more than 20 years ago (it was not a blog then, but a “website”) to focus on no more than children’s literature.

I have, however, evolved, through the years.  I still believe in the power of books, of course, but I also realize that I have a lot more to say about the world we live in than just which books to give to the next group of 4th graders or what books should have won an award, etc.

So, officially as of today, Fairrosa Cyber Library will be a place where I toss in whatever I am compelled to write about and to open discussions on.  I welcome comments and debates and please share widely if you think the posts are worthy.

Here are two Facebook posts that I read, from former students who are young adults (in their early 20s) in regard to race relations in the United States on this July 2016 weekend.  (I have permission from both of them to publicly post their opinions as written, attaching their names to their words.)

I saw this post first thing in the morning, from Clyde Lawrence, white:

clydelawrenceI normally only post about music and the mets because they’re the only things about which I feel I can speak with authority, but I just wanna say that what’s going on across the country is really terrible and I’m filled with rage and sympathy on behalf of all the people of color affected daily by systemic racism and violence. Although I try to talk in-person about this stuff as much as possible, I have mostly remained silent on social media because I had been unsure of whether my digital voice being distributed to a community of almost-exclusively like-minded people would be productive (or worse, diluting the voices of those who know what’s up). But recently/particularly today, I’ve seen so many people I trust to know what needs to happen more than I trust myself saying that silence on the part of white people simply needs to stop, and I feel that. So here I am, saying two things: I stand with the ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬ movement, but also I hope to learn about more specific and productive ways I can help. Hit me up on messages or something if you have ideas about what I, as a white person who wants to be part of the solution, can do, not that it’s the responsibility of others to figure that out for me.

This was actually from yesterday, but we just Facebook friended each other today, so it’s new to me, by Jeremy Allen, black:

jeremyallen[A friend/white] inspired me to say something. I too have a difficult time posting on social media on issues of social justice due to a mixture of finding it kind of self-indulgent and fear of the reaction it may cause. I think that the majority of my Facebook friends unanimously agree that what is occurring in our country is wrong. Radical change must happen, and fast, I think that much is clear. If you disagree with me on that, reevaluate yourself/unfriend me plz.

But what is perhaps even more disheartening to me are the comments that I continue to read that are starting a kind of race war, “us vs them,” mentality. This is especially upsetting to see among the young adults I went to school with whom I consider to be fantastic, educated, well informed, and reflective individuals. As someone who feels they straddle the line between both the “black” and “white” world, I offer an opinion to each.

To my white friends: Show support in the ways you believe are righteous, but be open to criticism if they are not well received, and adapt. You do not understand their struggles the way that blacks inherently do. I live a very privileged life, I do not try to deny that. And yet I am familiar with the discomfort of being on the street alone at night and having a police officer pull you aside to question what you’re doing, when really you’re just walking home. Or being stopped in Soho pushing your little sisters empty stroller and being interrogated about where you got it (no, I’m not into stealing strollers). It sucks, it’s awkward, it’s unnecessary, and it’s racist. Yet I have it far better than most. So, just be mindful that sometimes your words — no matter how well intentioned — come off ignorant. If you are a true supporter, you will not be disgruntled by constructive criticism but rather happy that you are able to participate in a way that is constructive to all. This is a learning process.

To my black friends: Do not silence the people who are trying to show support. Saying that it’s “not their place to comment” because of their skin color, economic status, or whatever, is only going to make the problem worse. This is us vs them. But the “US” is the educated and informed, those who strive towards true equality, regardless of race, age, economic position or gender, and the THEM is those who seek to oppose that very same spirit. To make blanket generalizations about white people, or to shame an individual for trying to express solidarity, is to regress. If the wealthy white kid feels so moved as to make a comment, despite them having truly no reason to, let them! If they make an off mark comment, inform them. But do so constructively, and inclusively. There is too much change to be made, and too many issues at stake, to alienate those who are trying to help.

I cannot be more moved by their thoughtfulness, their courage to speak up, and their willingness to continue the work to change our world.  Like Jeremy said, this world of racial bias and bigotry has to be radically changed, and fast.  We can all educate ourselves by reading and by reflecting and by learning from our peers, and those who are older or younger than us.

Please comment and have a dialog and also go out and DO something to change the world for the better.  Starting, perhaps, with reading up on information and how you can take actions here:

Campaign Zero

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