The United States is a nation that was built ideologically on the tenets of white supremacy: genocide of the peoples who resided on this land long before European settlers came and forced labor from enslaved populations who were stolen from their homelands across an ocean. This unfortunate fact is one that still haunts and influences the nation today, as racial disparities continue to exist in nearly all facets of life in the United States: health concerns, incarceration, and state-sanctioned violence all occur disproportionately targeting Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.
The COVID-19 pandemic that began spreading throughout the United States earlier this year is one indicator of the effects that racism continues to inflict upon the nation’s people of color. Disparities in healthcare access saw primarily Black and Brown communities become hotspots of COVID-19 infection; Indigenous communities were left entirely without adequate means to combat the spread of the virus; and Black and Brown folks make up the majority portion of “essential workers” whose bodies have been put in the direct line of COVID’s fire in order to save “the economy” to the sole benefit of a wealthy ruling class.
Additionally, we have seen an increase in state-sanctioned anti-Black violence since the start of this pandemic. While the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd have garnered media attention over the past several months, it is well-known that the United States has a long history of police violence against Black communities – including direct violence such as the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd as well as the lack of intervention in anti-Black violence seen in cases such as the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
While we mourn the loss of these and countless other individuals murdered at the hands of a white supremacist state, we remember the theme of this year’s conference: Forging our Future. We know that looking forward to a more inclusive and just world looks different for different communities: for those at the receiving end of racism and structural violence, simply existing and practicing self- and community-care may be the most important steps towards forging a better future. At the same time, those who benefit from our nation’s racist structures need to take more proactive steps to change these systems: resisting, disrupting, and dismantling the systems of oppression that exist in our nation today.
With these points in mind, the Northeast LGBT Conference would like to share the following suggested action steps for resisting white supremacist structures to attendees of this year’s conference:
Practice self-care. Whether that means unplugging from social media and/or the news, finding a creative outlet to express yourself, or so on.
Support Black and Brown communities. Whether that means directly providing aid to people of color in your life, donating to Black- and Brown-led community organizations, or supporting local Black and Brown artists and artisans financially.
Raise awareness without supporting re-traumatization. Raising awareness of racial injustice is important, but do not share images of violence against Black and Brown people – doing so can often be re-traumatizing to people of color who already face the threat of violence every day.
Learn about the effects of white supremacy in our nation. There are plenty of media pieces to check out to help educate you on the effects of white supremacy in the United States – including books such as White Rage by Carol Anderson or This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell; podcasts such as About Race hosted by Reni Eddo-Lodge or Conversations with Nova Reid; or films such as 13th by Ava DuVernay, The Hard Stop by George Amponsah, or Angry, White, and Proud by Jamie Roberts.
Continue to unlearn the racism you have been taught and learn new ways to combat these systems. One great article listing steps for white folks to take regarding this action item is from Medium: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
White supremacy is an ideology that has made its way into the corners of nearly every United States institution since the nation’s inception. It is thus our responsibility to continue to disrupt these systems and create new, truly just structures in their place.
– The Northeast LGBT Conference Oversight Board