The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
Several of my white friends have reached out to me to ask how they can help during this time. Some suggested that I advertise myself more fervently as a black-owned business. Some understandably want advice on helping them navigate this world around race a little better.
And while all of these sound like good ideas, the truth is I and so many of my black friends and family are just too tired to help you understand. We’ve been dealing with police brutality for a long time.
In 1981, one of my dad‘s best friends’ sons was killed in jail in Signal Hill, California, after being picked up for speeding. His name was Ron Settles. He was a college football player that had aspirations for the NFL. Police said he hanged himself but an autopsy showed he had been choked to death. This was my introduction to police brutality.
My daughter and I attended a vigil this week for George Floyd in Tuscon. What struck me the most were the number of white people in attendance. At one point we raised our fists for eight minutes and 46 seconds. And there was a sea of white fists. These fists were raised strongly and as intentionally as every black person who has raised at first to declare black power. It was positive, it was uplifting, and it was confusing.
While I understand the outrage over the death of Floyd, I’m confused as to why this time it seems to be such a different problem.
Is it because we actually got his murder on tape and there is no denying it?
I thought that was the same for countless other black lives that we’ve seen snuffed away on national television. Is it because we just have more time on our hands due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Or is it really the beginning of a turning point?
Friends are reaching out and asking if there are ways that they can support me. I don’t need a few people to start patronizing my business because it’s black owned. I don’t need to hear how liberal and open minded you are. A liberal can still use white privilege to threaten a black man in Central Park by calling the police.
I invite protests. But when we are done lifting our fists up in the street, let’s get to implementing some real change. First, I need you to catch up with American history, what you might call African American history. Research slavery, Jim Crow, Black Wall Street and the civil rights movement. If you were appalled at what you saw at the hands of a police officer killing another black man in Minneapolis, then you have not been awake.
It’s time to get woke. Make politicians accountable, open up dialogue with your friends about the reality of race in this country. More importantly, talk to your children! Racism and intolerance are taught. Even if you don’t believe that you’re a racist, wake up and learn implicit bias has the same impact. We don’t need lip service, we need action. We need you to finally stand up and make noise. Black mothers, fathers, and children have been standing up for generations and we are tired. We have been marching, protesting, crying, consoling.
We are exhausted and we will keep fighting. But none of our actions will begin to address the systemic racism that permeates our schools, health care, businesses, politics, the justice system and every other part of American life until white people really this is a fight worth fighting.
Arianna Sholes-Douglas, M.D., is an OB-GYN and owner of Tula Wellness and author of “The Menopause Myth.” She is a Tucson Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project.