My heart breaks for what’s happening, for the pain and grief and rage caused by George Floyd’s murder. And grief for his family. I beg people reading this to understand that his murder is a match thrown on the dry tinder of racism. There have been at least two other previous murders in Minneapolis with officers not being held accountable. The one time an officer was convicted of murder in that city the victim was white, the officer was Black. Imagine you are Black and let that sink in. Apparently, George Floyd had tried to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit bill when cops were called. Female Senator, Kelly Loeffler was being investigated for insider trading on the Covid information she’d received but her husband gave $1 million to a Trump PAC and the DOJ dropped the investigation. Imagine you are Black and let that sink in.
Hundreds of Black men and boys and women have been murdered at the hands of police who have never been held accountable. Add that onto the decades of black people being incarcerated for things that white people are never charged for—like possessing an ounce of marijuana or holding a cell phone the wrong way—that’s the new Jim Crow. That’s added on to the century of the original Jim Crow, when Black men were arrested for made-up crimes and sold to factory owners to work in factories and mines under unbelievably brutal and inhuman conditions and Blacks were deprived of any rights. And that was after slavery had been outlawed. Add that onto the centuries of black people being considered not human, sold like animals, beaten, tortured, raped, castrated, lynched. If white people had been subjected to this history of unspeakable violence they would be burning things…or worse.
That said, there is evidence that the majority of African Americans in Minneapolis have been protesting peacefully and that outside rightwing agitators have deliberately engaged in violence in order to justify police violence of the kind that Trump is referencing when he says , “If there’s looting, there will be shooting.”
I’ve read that the officer whose knee was on George Floyd’s neck had 18 previous incidents of violence against people of color. Police forces all over the country must rid themselves of people who evidence racism and a violent bent. But beyond that, in this time of covid-19 when the bandaids covering the profound inequality in this country are being torn off, let’s all of us do all we can to begin the real task of doing away with the policies that maintain racial disparity–like red-lining, discrimination in banking, insurance and voting–to name but a fraction of policies aimed at making it near impossible for Blacks to save, invest, and improve their situation. That means we must vote, every one of us, and make sure everyone we know is planning on voting and, if necessary, be prepared to help those who lack transportation or reading skills to get to the polls and understand what to do.
If African Americans can’t vote because they lack postage stamps to mail ballots — the new poll tax–bring them stamps or whatever else you can do to overcome the barriers that have been erected to prevent true democracy.
And while we’re at it, let’s work on ourselves, especially us white people, to understand why it is we benefit from white privilege. Read Black histories, learn about the legacy of racism. Four years ago I realized I didn’t know enough so I began to study and it has opened my eyes and my heart. You might start with Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow.” If you want more suggestions let me know. I have a whole library now of books that have educated me. We can do this. This is the year we have to do this.
But peace can’t wait for all the white people in the US to rid themselves of racism so please vote out the bigots and racists in our midst and make sure the people you replace them with are doing the necessary work.
Very well said, Jane. It’s sad that in the year 2020 we are going through this. It is heartbreaking to see what has taken place over the last few days. It doesn’t even seem like reality, but sadly it is.
I’m sure we would all love some book suggestions on this topic to better educate ourselves and spread the word to our friends and families.
Thank you, Jane, for always sharing your words of knowledge and wisdom and helping us through theses tough times.
Your leadership has been critical over the years and right now we need to turn the tide. Thanks for the continued efforts -we need something new to believe in! I’m wearing this throughout my community. Best Tshirt ever!
Jane, Right on! Beautifully said. I knew you would put something up on this today. It is so important. Thank you. XxDona
Jane. Thank you for using your voice to speak on this. You so eloquently and effectively bring light to what’s really going on in the world around us and how we can step up to change it. Actionable steps are key, so thank you for those!! I’ve been trying to educate myself as much as possible lately, because I think it’s so important for all of us not only to use our voices, but to make sure we’re informed and constantly learning more. I’m ordering “The New Jim Crow” per your suggestion, and I’m currently reading Ijeoma Oluo’s “So You Want To Talk About Race”, which is beautiful and eye-opening. I would love any other recommendations you have, if you have time to share. Again, thank you so much for putting this out into the world and providing a way to begin to navigate something so vital. Xo
I’m glad you posted. After watching your response on Friday’s stream, I knew you would write something inspiring here too.
I think every white person, myself included, needs to realise that we have to be extremely active. You should advise this blog community that if you can’t protest, you can donate bail money for the people who are able to protest; donate to the non-profit organisations; sign petitions and help share those petitions links.
Like you said, we need to educate ourselves. We cannot expect the black community to educate us, this is on us. If you have those suggestions on books, I am all ears.
Thank you for always using your platform and privilege to speak up, Jane. It’s so horrible to see that these things still happen in 2020 and not only in America but all over the world. I am 18 years old and I hope to see more change in the following years, I really do. Currently I am reading “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge, which is very eye-opening and also talks about Black history in Britain. I always try to be as educated and involved as possible and it’s inspiring to see that you are too. Thank you x
Thank you for the book suggestion. I’ll definitely check it out. You know, with all the reading and research you do on topics you’re passionate about and trying to learn more about – you should totally start a book club. Even just here, for your fans. Just an idea 😉
Jane, thanks to that brave 17-year-old boy who filmed, all the world cried seeing those terrifying scenes, from our worlds with many defects and problems we find it difficult to understand those, God protect them.
Sorry, I just realized that the person who film is a girl.
Thank you for your words and for amplifying the voices of others. Friday’s conversation with Heather McGhee was invaluable (I’ve watched it twice and I look forward to reading her book). I’m so grateful to FDF for continuing to expose us to different perspectives. Connecting the dots throughout history and in the midst of overlapping crises is not easy, but it’s necessary for progress.
I’m currently reading Carol Gilligan’s “In a Different Voice,” and seeing that the roots (and results) of the oppression of women seem to also apply to anyone who is labeled “other” in a society built by, for, straight white men. Finding our voices and refusing to be silent will never not be a radical act. There’s a reason it’s difficult; there is great power in speaking out.
A few book suggestions for anyone interested: “Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement,” by John Lewis and “The Autobiography of Malcom X.” Also anything by James Baldwin (the documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” is also eye-opening).
Sometimes reading feels inadequate when others are acting out, but I think it’s just as crucial; to change the world we first need to change ourselves. So keep the book suggestions coming!
Jane, forgive me for the boldness in writing to you again. I didn’t do that anymore because I saw that you didn’t approve of my last two posts on your blog; I understood that I was no longer welcome. I was very sad and went to my inner cave to reflect on what I could have done wrong. Whatever I have done, forgive me. I confess that this place of rejection is not easy and, again, I had to look at it and realized how much my self-rejection recreates it in my life. But my feeling is absolutely insignificant, considering what we are experiencing now. I can’t find words that define what we’re going through. Anyway, I kept looking at your blog and I want to say that you cannot imagine the contribution you have made in my life over the past four years. When I read your last post, that you talk about Brazil, I felt so close to you that I couldn’t resist and the nostalgia made me write again. Wherever you are, my heart remains with you!
Jane, we are living in very difficult times. Worse than this virus is the human ignorance that led us to this point. I speak of the Amazon, Covid-19, Geroge Floyd, João Pedro and Marielle here in Brazil and about many, many others. We’re on our knees for them! This week I was speechless in the face of everything. What can I say to my son who at 10 years of age still sees the world with my eyes? I can’t watch the video and haven’t slept yet. It is absolutely shocking! I think this virus is the materialization of what we are facing. We are no longer breathing, for George, for the virus, for the Amazon, for indigenous peoples … But now I see that all of this may be the chance to change what needs to be changed. There is a revolt. Right now here in Brazil an act for democracy is taking place. Oh, there is hope! Something starts to happen. I already destroyed 3 vases in the window. I really want your book to come to Brazil, I know I have a lot to learn from it. God bless you! My heart remains with you
Jane, I came here on purpose because I knew you would have something to say. I admire that about you! As someone who has really never been an activist, I am open to learning how I can be more vocal and make a difference. Thank you for posting your thoughts and ideas. I have great respect for your legacy of work.
Thank you MS Fonda for your article. Please visit the following website https://ados101.com/ and share with your followers the same information to help better understand the this history of racism in the US. Thanks again
Your segment on CNN this evening was so powerful. You always speak the truth and your decades of activism are powerful beyond words. Thank you! You’re an inspiration to all.
God bless you and continue to use your platform for the many causes and issues that we all need to be a part of.
xoxo much love & respect
Hi Jane, thank you so much for recognising your privilege and influence and using it to speak about this issue. I’ve ordered the book you recommended and am looking forward to reading it – I want to educate myself as much as possible on these issues: even though I’m not from the US, active and institutional racism are global problems that needs to be eradicated.
I was watching Don Lemon’s reportage on CNN last night when he called out ‘Hollywood’s Elite’ for not speaking up. I just knew it would only be a matter of hours before you would make a presence and I’m so glad you did. I’m a Dutch, white woman working in media and consider myself educated and culturally aware. But despite this and the fact we Europeans have our own history of romanticizing colonization and tolerating discrimination, I figured it’s not evident for me to comprehend the sheer pain many Americans are currently feeling. I realized that though I feel empathy, this type of pain is rather foreign to me. But you’re one of the people who has made me stand still and really take in what is happening here. It’s because of you I’m researching, reading and reflecting about these fundamental issues far more than before. It’s because of you I want to take action, no matter how small, to instill change. Thank you for the awakening, thank you for speaking up, thank you for being you.
Jane! Thank you so much for replying to me!
I’m glad you’ve already got help and I’ll totally check into volunteering from where I’m at. You’re such an awesome human being – I don’t even know where I’d start to describe the respect I’ve started developing for you ever since I learned who you were and what you’ve done in your life!
I’ve never ever done this, but even if you don’t need anyone on your staff right now, you might soon, and I SO want to be on team Jane as I have decided you’re the ‘guru of life’ I want to learn from – if you dropped my email ([email protected]) a message, and I sent you a couple of videos and my resume and even references (i.e. showing I am a fabulous non crazy human) then would you give me an hour of your life for me to prove that Team Jane needs Beth if not now, at somepoint in the future?
PS. CNN – with the black beret? Win! You are the ultimate activist!
Thank you Jane for speaking out. Not only on your blog, but also on CNN. I am sorry your interview was cut short. Reading Michelle Alexander’s ” The New Jim Crow” is a start in educating us about racism. I will be 71 tomorrow and I am not too old to learn. We all need to be more educated about racism. Please, please stay safe!
What is going on right now saddens me. It also makes me realize how uneducated I am. Thank you so much for speaking up. I watched cnn and your words are so powerful. Thank you for opening my eyes.i need to educate myself,to understand what is happening. I’m sorry if I sound selfish because That’s not what I’m aiming for. I want to learn. I’m going to read the book that you suggested. If you have any other suggestions that would be great! I pray every night that this hate would end and we would have more love in this world.
In few days I will post a readiung list for those who want to learn the american history of race
I’m white. I’m living in a country where people are white. There is a very small percentage of people of color here. I can guess what fellow citinzens are thinking about people of color by the way they look at them. Almost as if those persons had something contagious. It’s said for me to see something like this happening in 2020. Whenever I’m traveling abroad to countries where are more people of color I simply feel a inner joy. I’m not looking at them differently because I’m fully aware I’m not better than any other human being.
Nicoleta, I guess by your last name you live somewhere in eastern Europe, nyes?
Yes, Jane, I’m living in Romania. I am Romanian with no Slavic origins that I know of, although my last name sounds like an Ukrainian or a Russian one, and these two countries are among Romania’s neighbours.
As I was saying in the previous message that “I’m not looking at people differently because I’m fully aware I’m not better than any other human being”, I guess vice versa is also true. When we reach a certain level of wisdom and understanding , our mind stops comparing us with others and comparing others with us. We are just human beings no matter our skin color, our eyes’ color, our social and economic status, and so on. Our personal interaction and tight hug in Paris on October 22nd 2018 have strengthened these believes even more for me, and I’m feeling blessed for that one moment in time.
We are not born racist. We were taught to be racist. So, all we have to do is to erase this kind of thinking that was put into our heads since we were kids. But it takes willpower to do that. Every kid must remember when theor parents told him “don’t play with that kid because he is ….”.
Problems like this also exist between people having the same color of skin, but belonging to different nations. Xenophobia is not so far away from racism.
You know, with all this pandemic period, what I’ve missed the most was hugging people, really hugging them.
I love your inner power! Stay safe and well XXX,
Thank you for this contribution. Please also consider using your voice on behalf of black women when it comes to casting and story telling. Ex: I love the show Frankie and Grace but it appears to be a whole world that excludes the prescence of black women. Yes the show hits some of the ‘diversity’ boxes with two black male characters and their storylines are great. Both of those men are involved with white women. I’m all for love whoever you want to love. That’s great but more frequently than not these mainstream worlds depict black men loving almost exclusively non black women. Sorry, but that’s not okay nor does it reflect reality. Often black women are featured as a side kick, a non feminine, non sexual/or overly sexual after thought. It is hurtful and just as the negative stereotypes of black men in the media have trained some officers to see black men as expendable, the absence of black women in these imagined worlds also has a negative impact….
My message here might not be well received, especially when all previous comments are rightfully positive. On this day, Tuesday, June 2nd, #blackouttuesday, black voices are to be amplified and I’m using mine with love where I can. Thank you!
I agree, Monica, with all you say. We are in our final season and I doubt we can introduce a new Black character but all the writers and producers are very race conscious. We have the most diverse crew I have ever experienced.
Jane, I just want to take a moment to thank you for being such a strong advocate for the black community for many years. You’ve been a constant when it comes to activism and I truly admire that. These are scary times so it’s comforting to hear from those who have been advocating and protesting for change since the 60s. I was feeling anxious about this just a few days ago and I talked to my grandmother to get her perspective. The thing that really struck me is when she said that the way I’m feeling now is how she felt at my age when there were riots in D.C. We both agreed that it’s important to become educated and to learn as much as we can about our past in order to create a better future for those who come after us.
Very well said, Jane, as are all your posts. Is there somehow we can mail you a photo of our charity’s ARTISTS AGAINST RACISM billboard in Atlanta (and Brunswick where Ahmaud was killed)? We’d love you to be on the next one, and trying to post these nationwide as funding permits. You may also see the billboard on our Twitter page @aarcharity (and on Lou Diamond Phillip’s as he reposted it!)
You can also access our social media pages via http://www.artistsagainstracism.org. The great Norman Jewison was a founding member. I will never forget the first meeting we had, where he told me of the first night, while shooting “In the Heat of the NIght” where he had to jump from hotel to hotel with Sidney Poitier because lynching threats kept coming in and the hotel managers didn’t want him to stay in there hotel :(. We’ve progressed since then, but not far enough at all.
I am very sad and proud of the happenings over the last week. I am sad because it is necessary and proud because so many young people are standing up for what’s right. My generation tried and failed to turn this tide. To make a better world for our children, we failed! I am inspired that this new generation of young people are facing this fight and hopefully will change our view on equality. I grew my children to be colorblind am proud that they have both taken up the fight for equality and know that th he world will be better for it. Ee should not judge each other for the color of our skin. We need to love each other for the persons we are. Police who harass or punish those with a darker skin tone then they are need to be replaced and prosecuted when they cross the line. We need to stand together and demand equality for all.
I can just feel her pain busting through the camera:
Thank goodness for people like you who are prepared to speak out for human rights and the planet. Truly an inspiration for so many years, long may you continue to be so and do good work.