Ebony Haight: It's Your Turn

2 min

Like many African Americans, Ebony Haight is tired of pretty words and disavowals of racism not backed up by action. It is, she says, your turn to do something about it.

Despite the good intentions of people I love and respect, it makes me angry to hear them say what a hard week it’s been. It has been a hard week. But it’s been hard for a very long time. And by hard I mean heartbreaking.

I mean that each time I have to say another name, I have to sit with the feeling that I live in a country that can’t seem to figure out how to value me. How to uphold my life as something delicate and worth protecting.

I mean that even before the data, I knew Black people would be disproportionately affected by this virus, and then denied access to testing and health care. That’s just the “normal” people are so desperate to return to.

This must be more than another hashtag moment, and there’s plenty you can and should do beyond just posting a thing. You must speak — to your family, your church, your co-workers, neighbors and friends. And don’t just say it’s hard. Say it’s the inevitable result of white supremacist policies drafted into the Constitution and the violent, systemic disenfranchisement of every Black person, every day, throughout the history of our country.

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We can all stop saying we’re not racist. America wouldn’t exist without racism to develop it. All non-Black Americans have benefited from racist systems and have acted at some point in a racist way. So change will need to be personal. Not just for now, but forever. Decide who you want to be offline, when no one is watching.

If we truly want change we will need to get real about changing the entire composition of this country. It will be uncomfortable, but believe me when I say you can handle it. It’s something that I, and every Black person striving to craft a life in this country, have always had to do, and we are tired. But I can’t just stop doing the work and neither should you.

With a Perspective, I’m Ebony Haight.

Ebony Haight is a writer and artist living in Oakland.