Justice for __ : Funding Racial Justice + book recommendations

The past couple of days have been extremely hard for many of us. The news / media has been very taxing on our psyche and we are emotionally spent. The stagnancy COVID-19 has created in our current lives as well as the disproportionate number of Black lives the virus is taking, is painful. And to add salt to injury, witnessing fellow brothers and sisters being murdered at the hands of the police in various states in the US is deeply disheartening. The anger, pain and brokenness is vast. We are thoroughly exhausted. We’ve had enough.

In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist. — Angela Davis

Non-Black friends – I’d like to implore you to please do better. Those who are silent during this time – your silence is complicity. READ, listen, do the introspective work of understanding your discomfort when it comes to conversations surrounding race. Call out your racist friends and family members (especially during ‘kitchen table talk’). Don’t just perform antiracism online by typing the generic – ‘I’m shocked’ or ‘I’m appalled’ at what is currently happening. Actually take action in trying to dismantle white supremacy, instead of performing fake sympathy online.

Evaluate your own internalized racism – how do you interact with your Black co-workers, classmates, essential workers, even Black strangers in grocery stores, public transportation etc? Be that non-Black friend / ally who’ll tell us to sit at home while you go protest. Be that non-Black friend that insists on walking by our side as we all go out and protest. Put your time, money and resources where your mouth is.

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Below are some resources for ways we can all help in *our liberation, especially for those who aren’t able to protest. These are twelve (12) organizations and victim support platforms where we can help fund racial justice:

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  • Minnesota Freedom Fund – A community-based nonprofit that pays criminal bail and immigration bonds for individuals who have been arrested while protesting police brutality.
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  • Black Visions Collective – A Black, Trans & Queer-led organization that is committed to dismantling systems of oppression & violence and shifting the public narrative to create transformative, long-term change.
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  • Campaign Zero – An online platform and organization that utilizes research-based policy solutions to end police brutality in America.
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  • Reclaim the Block – A coalition that advocates for and invests in community-led safety initiatives in Minneapolis neighborhoods.
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  • Unicorn Riot – A non-profit organization that is dedicated to exposing root causes of dynamic social and environmental issues through amplifying stories and exploring sustainable alternatives in today’s globalized world.
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  • Run With Maud / I Run With Maud – We all know and saw what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia. Sign the petition, donate and help make calls to demand justice for Ahmaud.
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  • Justice for Breonna / via Change.org – Breonna Taylor deserves accountability. Take action by donating and signing the petition. Details on what the petition entails are on the websites.
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  • Black Lives Matter – Founded in 2013 as a response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, #BlackLivesMatter has been working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise. The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.
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There are also a ton of city Bail Funds available to bail protestors out of jail. Google your city’s Bail Fund to donate. Please give what you can, if you can. 

There are many other organizations working tirelessly in demanding justice. Several Black lives have been humiliated and/or lost to white hate and police brutality. We remember Emmett Till, Rodney King, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Korryn Gaines, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Nina Pop and so many more, including countless Black women and Black Trans women. ALL Black lives that have been lost will never be forgotten. We are human and we matter. 

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Nearly all the books celebrated on this book blog are great places to start for anyone trying to do the personal work of dismantling white supremacy. But below are 17 book recommendations (mostly non-fiction) of old & new reads that are pertinent to the current unrest.

If you have access to these books (and others, obviously) please READ them. Help be part of the change.

In the meantime, Black friends – make time for yourself and do the things you love. COVID-19 has already created an atmosphere of anxiety and uncertainty. Disconnect from the news and social media for a while – I plan on taking a social media break for some time. The constant images of Black bodies being hurt and killed takes a toll on the psyche. Make time for yourself. Be still and regroup.

 

*our – meaning ALL Black lives – Black women, Black men, Black LGBTQIA; Black – African American, African, Caribbean, Black British, Afropean, Afro-Latinx, Afro-Asian – any and all variations of the spectrum. All of us.

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou

Date Read: April 29th 2015

Published: 1991 (first published in 1986)

Publisher: Vintage Books

Pages: 208

Angelou1

 The Blurb

In 1962 the poet, musician, and performer Maya Angelou claimed another piece of her identity by moving to Ghana, joining a community of “Revolutionist Returnees” inspired by the promise of pan-Africanism. All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes is her lyrical and acutely perceptive exploration of what it means to be an African-American on the mother continent, where color no longer matters but where American-ness keeps asserting itself in ways both puzzling and heartbreaking. As it build on the personal narrative of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Gather Together In My Name, this book confirms Maya Angelou’s stature as one of the most gifted autobiographers of our time.

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Review – ★★★★ (4 stars)

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes is book five of Maya Angelou’s autobiography series. I read books one, two and three when I was younger; I’ll dig through my Mom’s old books and read book four soon! Check out the books in her autobiography series – here.

This autobiography takes place in Ghana (mostly Accra) in the 1960’s, shortly after Ghana’s independence in 1957. In All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, Maya Angelou joins a community of disenfranchised African-Americans/Negro Americans (they called themselves the ‘Revolutionist Returnees’) on their quest to explore, understand and aid the Motherland in any way they can. While in Ghana, Angelou finds a job as an administrator at the University of Ghana – Legon and at a local newspaper as a journalist. Angelou takes us through the different conversations and interactions she has with the kind-hearted Ghanaians during her stay. I loved how most Ghanaians made her feel at home; Ghanaians are very hospitable – especially to foreigners, and this book definitely highlights this fact. My country did me proud in this book! I was glad that Maya Angelou was living with a community of African-Americans, but mostly interacted with Africans throughout her stay in Ghana – there was a good balance.

An interesting part in the book is when Angelou and the other African-Americans protested in front of the American Embassy in Accra on the same day of the March On Washington, lead by Martin Luther King Jr in the United States. The purpose of the March On Washington and the simultaneous protest at the American embassy in Accra were to demand the equal rights of people of all colors, as well as desegregation in the United States. W.E.B DuBois was also in Ghana at the time – he gained Ghanaian citizenship and lived in Ghana during the latter part of his life. My favorite part of the book is when Malcolm X arrives in Ghana and Angelou along with the other ‘Revolutionist Returnees’ do their best to make him feel at home, arrange various talks for him around Accra and even pull some strings for him to meet President Kwame Nkrumah. The historical snapshots in this book are awesome! It was amazing to read about these iconic leaders being regular people while making history, through Angelou’s lens.

Angelou struggled a lot in this book with her identity and facing the facts of the past. It constantly angered her to recollect how Africans sold other Africans into slavery, giving rise to present day African-Americans and other people of African descent in the diaspora. Maya Angelou couldn’t even visit the Elmina Castle – which housed millions of slaves at the Cape Coast of Ghana, because the dehumanizing ordeals her ancestors endured at this historical venue prior the Trans-Atlantic journey nauseated her. I appreciated her quest to live and understand the ‘black experience’ in Africa – Ghana, which is a place where almost everyone is black. This is truly an informative, fun, fast read, as Angelou articulates her experiences with such ease and humor. This memoir ends on a satisfying note for me. I recommend this to anyone who appreciates Black history and those who wish to travel to the continent of Africa on the quest for his/her identity.

★★★★ (4 stars) – Great book. Highly recommend!

My Mom’s lovely Maya Angelou collection above. These books are super old!

Purchase All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes on Amazon