In his autobiography, Howard Thurman describes the first time he had to explain racism to his daughters. They wanted to visit a playground designated for white children only in a segregated Daytona Beach, Florida. When they asked Thurman why they couldn’t swing on the swings he told them:
“It is against the law for us to use those swings, even though it is a public school. At present, only white children can play there. But it takes the state legislature, the courts, the sheriffs and policemen, the white churches, the mayors, the banks and businesses, and the majority of white people in the state of Florida – it takes all these to keep two little black girls from swinging in those swings. That is how important you are! Never forget, the estimate of your own importance and self-worth can be judged by how many weapons and how much power people are willing to use to control you and keep you in the place they have assigned you. You are two very important little girls. Your presence can threaten the entire state of Florida.”
This conversation between parent and children took place in the 1930’s but it just as easily could have happened today. For the first time, we find ourselves wishing something Thurman wrote had become irrelevant. We wish we no longer needed to explain racism to children, to adults, to ourselves. We wish we no longer needed to recognize the powerful and widespread systems in place that allow racism to infiltrate our daily lives. We wish we no longer needed to add new names to the list of Black people murdered for the color of their skin. And yet.
Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd.
And before them, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin. Not to mention the countless names of Black people whose lives were ended off camera.
Few words capture our grief, but capturing grief is not the point. We want only to acknowledge it. The images of murder and other acts of violence that we have witnessed this week (and for generations prior) weigh heavily on us all. You are not alone in your anger and pain. We mourn with you.
Take the time you need to grieve and keep in mind that the healing process is not linear. And when you are ready to take action, we hope the following resources are helpful place to start.
“Turn to Ritual and Ceremony,” Lalah Delia, Vibrate Higher Daily
“If You’re a White Woman and You’re Uncomfortable Right Now, That’s a Good Thing,” Liz Plank, Cosmopolitan
So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo
Do The Right Thing (iTunes)
Get Out (iTunes)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Hulu)
The Hate U Give (Hulu)
When They See Us (Netflix)
For additional viewing recommendations, check out this list from Vox.
“Antiracist Allyship Starter Pack” (Google Sheet)
The Boston University Student Government, UMOJA: The Black Student Union, and 100+ organizations have organized a fundraiser for the Black Visions Collective, Campaign Zero, and NAACP Legal Defense Fund. In their first 24 hours, they raised nearly $50,000. Learn more about their efforts here.
Want to talk? The HTC is hosting open office hours from the week of June 1 through the week of July 7. Find the schedule and Zoom links on our website calendar.
Mental Health Resources
Therapy for Black Girls (website)
“How to Find a Black Therapist Virtually,” Essence
For additional resources, please visit our Instagram highlight “Resources.”