862 people showed up for the event I hosted today along with my dear friends on Zoom Webinar: Internalized Whiteness in the U.S. Southeast. I will be sitting with and processing what it felt like and what happened for quite some time. Some folks asked for my opening remarks / the moment of silence I led. Here is what I opened the call with (please do not use this text without attribution):
Please join me in a moment of silence. I honor all of the Black people whose deaths are the unjust result of white supremacy this week, last week, and over the last 400 years. Because we, the hosts of this call, are in a place we now call Atlanta, Georgia; I honor all of the people of African descent who were enslaved, brutalized, forced into convict leasing and sharecropping on this land which was looted from the Muscogee/Creek people to make space for white land ownership and wealth hoarding. I honor all Black life because Black lives are dehumanized every single day here in Atlanta, Georgia, across the continent and the globe. I honor Ahmaud Arbery, one of the most recent Black people to be murdered here in Georgia. I honor Santiago Baten-Oxlaj (BAH-ten Oak-LAHJ), who died in Georgia’s Stuart Detention Center unnecessarily due to COVID-19. I acknowledge the harms perpetuated daily here in Atlanta, known as “the South’s Black mecca”--these include viral videos of white high school students with guns in Decatur, failure of local philanthropic institutions to move financial resources to Black-led and Black liberation work, and white folks trying to control or censure the way that Black folks are choosing to show their rage right now. I ask you to say to yourself the names of other Black, indigenous or people of color whose lives you honor right now.
I honor Black women of the U.S. Southeast who have led antiracism work and fought for freedom over the last 400 years. I know that none of us would be here, on this call today, with anything valuable to share with you if we had not been called into this work by and learned at the feet of Southern Black women.
This week has been deemed A Week of Action In Defense of Black Lives by the Movement for Black Lives. And two black music executives, Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, have deemed today as Blackout Tuesday.
Please spend at least an hour later today, listening to Black leaders (it’s not enough to come here and listen to white folks).
A quote from Mattice Haynes (read the whole statement at www.theblackmeccaproject.com): "Dear Beloved Black Atlantans, The system isn't broken, it is operating precisely as it was designed to. It's designed to demonize us, dehumanize us, exploit us, and kill us to preserve white peoples' comfort, wealth, wellbeing, and embodied sense that they are the supreme standard of what it means to be human."