Post-Lockdown, What’s Next?

We’re back! We took a long-ish break but we’re ramping up again…collecting our thoughts…getting rid of anger and frustration as the world seems to be literally exploding.

What’s Next

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

The lockdown in Spain is over, at least for now. We’re mostly practicing social distancing (and are required to wear masks in public), but the situation around the rest of the world is hardly comforting. Numbers are going up in areas that have resumed almost-normal. The potential for a second wave is there and probably increasing. Meanwhile, the world is going to shit with more-obvious-than-ever hatred and racism. Didn’t we once believe humanity was better than this? What we’re seeing on flagrant display is just devastating. But I’m trying to think positive thoughts: DC statehood, #BlackLivesMatter, and movements for justice cropping up around the world. I am personally embarking on a couple of big initiatives that involve Syria and activism.

I’ll leave it at that tonight. Tomorrow is another day. Who knows, maybe Trump will finally catch the #Coronavirus.

The New Karen

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

During the past few weeks, we have witnessed the world waking up to confront years of bigotry and racism in the wake of the horrific murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota. There are fleeting glimpses that we the people may actually be coming together in support of the social injustices perpetrated against the black citizens of this country and the minorities of the world.

With that awareness comes a different problem in America. People are policing others and shaming them into doing the “right” thing. Meanwhile, thanks to technology, there is a camera rolling somewhere, capturing these encounters. Many recordings have gone viral and made headlines.

Most prominent is the angry middle-aged white woman nicknamed “Karen” who personifies white privilege and entitlement. It is a little vague as to the origin of this nickname, but recently “Karen” has been recorded ranting at people of color and minorities in a confrontational and aggressive manner.

As I watch the scenes unfold on my social media feeds, I am touched by a myriad of emotions. I am shocked, amused, angry, sad, and even disgusted. These encounters are not new, but have a new meaning in light of the rising black voices against racism.

By now we are all familiar with Amy Cooper, the Central Park woman who becomes irate at a black man for telling her to keep her dog on a leash. She even calls the police and lies that she is being “attacked by an African-American man.” Why does she think it’s okay to do that?…. because she is a Karen. This Karen is using her white privilege to put a black man “in his place.”

Or the other one was the Karen in San Francisco who accused a man of defacing private property because he was chalking “Black Lives Matter” on the front of a home in an affluent neighborhood.

She and her husband assumed that he did not live there because of his “brown” skin color. Not only was it his home, but he had lived there for 18 years.

I realize that there are two sides to every story, but as soon as a white person takes a hammer and beats the shit out of a neighbor’s car they have lost the argument. As was the case with the LA Karen.

White privilege in America and the delusional assumption that they are superior has really gone on way too long, but isn’t that why millions of people have been protesting around the world these past few weeks? Demanding social justice for people of color? BLACK LIVES MATTER! Black people matter.

Remember I said I had a myriad of emotions? Well I forgot to add conflicted. I wonder if these incidents can be avoided altogether. Maybe we should we stop trying to police each other? Especially during tenuous times when everyone is on edge. Everyone is on hyper-alert at the moment. I think if we lay off the antagonism and take a chill pill or walk away, we could avoid these blow ups. Hey, just don’t be a Karen!

Becoming an Activist

Reposed with permission from Wayne Wallace, McLean, Virginia

It didn’t happen overnight. Despite (or perhaps because of) growing up in the South in the 60s and 70s, I have been offended by overt racism most of my life. But the more insidious, constant racism that permeates our society, not so much. It’s not that I didn’t see it; it’s that I didn’t see how harmful it actually was. Plus, it didn’t affect me. And who am I to change the world?

While I never thought it was fair that my opinion mattered more than my Black, Brown, and female colleagues, I didn’t see it as that big of a deal. I could see that it was annoying, but worth making a fuss about? Certainly not

for me. For one, I was the beneficiary of the subtle racism, and I had more important things to do. And who am I to change the world?

Then a lot of things happened that changed my perspective. For starters, I spent a lot of time with Syrian activists and saw what a difference a little activism can make. No, they didn’t topple the regime, but they did a lot of good and have helped establish the bedrock needed to make Syria better once the regime is gone. They made a difference. It’s inspiring.

I also had major changes and losses in my life that significantly altered my perspective about what is important. Not that I ever thought material possessions were key to a successful life, but my focus was more there than on improving the world beyond my very small circle. And besides, who am I to change the world? I should focus on raising my kids and improving MY world. Not THE world.

Now, the injustices in the world are too much for me to simply watch and ask, “Who am I to change the world?” I’m just one voice, but if a group of voices can work together, we can pry dictators out of their fortresses and into courts of justice. We can bring about real change.

So today I write, I document, I photograph, and perhaps film the world I see around me. I will add my voice to those of the others marching in Washington, Minneapolis, Paris, Sydney, Amsterdam, and Idlib. I know I can’t do much on my own. But by joining with others, we can bring about real change. People of color in my country can achieve true equality; oppressed people in other countries can know democracy. Peoples suffering from decades of occupation, war, and injustice can one day know freedom and peace.

Who am I to change the world? I’m an activist.

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