Each week, I sit down to write a post for this blog—usually a tongue-in-cheek list of something related to my (very privileged) outdoor-adjacent life. This week’s post was supposed to be about enjoying a quiet summer with fewer self-imposed goals, but in the wake of this weekend’s violent rallies by literal, actual Nazis, I can’t bring myself to publish it.
A few weeks ago, a friend posted something on Facebook that I’ve been thinking about a lot. Basically, it asked us to think back to high school history class, when we all learned about the Civil Rights Movement and the Holocaust and various other times in history when people’s lives and human rights were at stake. If you ever asked yourself what you would’ve done I’ve you’d been alive during that time, her post said, you have an answer.
Whatever you’re doing right now—that’s what you would’ve done.
Right now, we live in a country where violent racists, bolstered by the support of a hateful, fearmongering president, are gathering steam and committing atrocities. The President of the United States not only doesn’t condemn their behavior; he openly condones it and blames victims for it. People of color are shot in the streets by policemen who face no consequences. It is a dangerous time to live in America.
I wish I had something really eloquent to say about What To Do Right Now. I’ve typed out and deleted a dozen Facebook posts—Nazis are bad. White Nationalism is terrorism. Racism is not acceptable. But if I’m just saying it and not doing anything about it, am I really any better? Is just saying I’m anti-racist enough?
Of course it’s not.
So this week, instead of writing about rafting or hiking or climbing, I’m posting a list of things that I, personally, am committing to doing to combat white supremacy. If you know of better resources or want to tell me what I can do to be a more supportive ally, I hope you will post them in the comments. I don’t want a pat on the back; I want to be a better ally. I am here to listen.
- Give money. I don’t have a lot of expendable income, but Bix and I have committed to donating when we can to organizations that support and uplift people of color, including legal aid programs and the local chapter of Black Lives Matter.
- Speak out against racism when I encounter it. Whether this means telling a friend or family member the joke they just made is racist or interrupting racist bullying when I see it in public, it is awkward and uncomfortable, and it is important.
- Keep calling my senator. Normally, I dial my terrible senator’s number only to leave a ranting voicemail about his votes to confirm unqualified cabinet picks and take healthcare away from millions of Americans. Today, I called to thank him for doing the right thing, for once, and condemning the racists in Charlottesville. I’ll still do whatever I can to unseat him at the end of this term.
- Pass the mic to people of color. We keep hearing this: if you’re surprised, you aren’t paying attention. I can speak out against racism, but I cannot possibly understand or empathize with the experiences people of color in America are living. I can, however, listen when POC speak and highlight and amplify their voices whenever possible.
- Keep showing up. Not just over the next few weeks, when vigils and counter-protests are happening in the wake of Charlottesville. I am going to keep showing up—to rallies that protest racist legislation and rhetoric, to volunteer with organizations that actively uplift people of color, to community events where my voice or my presence are needed.
The time to combat racism is now. What are we going to do?