Dear “Woke” White People…
Dear “Woke” White Middle Class People in the SF Bay Area,
Stop sharing videos and photos with me (and other POCS) of Black and brown people being brutalized by the police without asking if it’s okay or even necessary to ‘share’ or tag us. Ask us first. Why? For many, it’s triggering and traumatizing. I don’t need to see Sandra Bland’s cell phone video. Sharing these moments with me is more like a performance of wokeness than anything else. This is not ‘woke’ Olympics, but you seem to be using these social media moments as a way to prove how awful systemic racism and anti Blackness are….
…. while you then collectively go right back to the lives you are living that have been built by 500+ years of systemic racism, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness without actually dismantling it. As a matter of fact, it appears that even if 10,000 new videos of Beckies calling the police on us or the police beating or shooting us showed up on Twitter one day, it would not change anything because fundamentally, white people from the entire spectrum (from left to right) collectively don’t want that change to happen. You’d collectively lose out on these privileges below since they are the gains from the white supremacist [neoliberal capitalist] system that you are covertly invested in it.
These have been a few of your returns so far if you’re living in the SF Bay area:
Gentrification. Being able to live in your informal white gated community with those silly “Black Lives Matter, Love is Love, No human is illegal…” signs all over the place to show that diversity lip service…yet y’all keep on posting on Nextdoor about some ‘suspicious’ Black or brown teen walking around the neighborhood while that group of white boys hooting and hollering aren’t suspicious at all…just, ‘boys being boys’.
High Rated Public K-12 Schools. Having your children attend a public school system that is rated an 8 or higher.
Local Beer. Having 5 micro-breweries within a .25 mile of you.
Stop Signs are Just a Suggestion. Rolling through stop signs without getting more than a warning from cops.
Banning Living in a Vehicle. Passing city ordinances that ask that no one park vehicles over the length of 20′ (i.e., the homeless people made homeless due to gentrification and can only live in their vans or motorhomes on the side of the road).
Hoodie Fashion. Putting a hoodie on because it’s too cold to go outside without one…and not getting shot or killed for ‘looking like a thug’
Home Buying. ‘Easily’ getting that mortgage to buy that home in that 10 rated school system over the Black family with the same , if not better, financial situation than you, who was rejected for the 28th time.
Happier Healthier Pregnancy. When you get pregnant and then give birth, you don’t have to worry about higher rates of maternal or infant mortality, because, unlike Black women, your health and pain are taken ‘seriously’.
Feminism 3.0. Neoliberal feminism for ‘woke’ white women whose careers have been supported by the disposable use of brown and black nannies and housecleaners so they can “lean in.”
Racial Wealth Gap and Capital. The racial wealth gap which can be collectively attributed to capital gained from a majority of your ancestors being ALLOWED to be landowning white men with enslaved Black people that built that wealth that accumulated over the last 500 years– or, if they came over as an immigrant (voluntarily), they were eventually allowed into the whiteness club to build that capital.
I talk about the above all the time in my workshops and lectures throughout the USA. So, here’s the thing….
…There is no ‘end’ to being ‘woke’. It is more like you continue to wake up into the next coma, and then you realize you are in a coma of cognitive dissonance and try to wake up out of that one, only to find yourself in another one that you don’t realize you are in until later…it is and endless continuum but many of you don’t understand that. You think you’re done. End of story. And that’s the challenge/problem.
You pat each other on the backs and affirm each other that you are indeed ‘woke’. You drive a Tesla. You don’t use plastic bags anymore. You are Buddhist. You eat organic. You own a Black Lives Matter t-shirt. You’ve created your own little ‘woke’ white bubbles of affirmations. You’ve even begun to white-splain to each other and non-white people why you are ‘woke’ (in comparison to MAGA supporters)….
….All while Rome (SF Bay area) continues to burn for the rest of us.
I dive more into the collateral damages of neoliberal whiteness and commodity culture on June 11, 2019, here (click on photo) :
ABOUT DR. A. BREEZE HARPER
Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions, a seasoned speaker, and author of books and articles related to critical race feminism, intersectional anti-racism, and ethical consumption. As a writer, she is best know for as the creator and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix)which explored how key Black vegan men use hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. In 2016, she collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the backgrounder Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked off FoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system.
Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.
Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. Her current 2016 lecture circuit focuses on excerpts from her latest book in progress, Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape which will be released in 2017, along with the second Sistah Vegan project anthology The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter. In tandem with these book projects, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”
In the spring of 2016, Dr. Harper was nominated as the Vice Presidential nominee for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.