S2:E6 Racial Reckoning Revisited Part 1

COMBING THE ROOTS PODCAST

By Ally Henny

Racial Reckoning Part 1

Season 2, Episode 6

December 10, 2020

TRANSCRIPT

[MUSICAL INTRODUCTION]

HENNY: This is Ally Henny and you’re listening to “Combing the Roots,” powered by The Witness – A Black Christian Collective. In this episode, we’re going to revisit the Racial Reckoning, and talk about its implications for the Black community. Stay tuned!

[MUSIC]

HENNY: Hey! So it’s been a minute. It’s been a long minute. I’m not even going to go into how long it’s been since I’ve been on this microphone with you all. But I’m happy to be back in some small way. You know, I jumped bad this summer and thought, “Oh, I’m going to be able to record, I’m going to be able to have an episode a week out, this is going to be such a great format,” blah blah blah. And then the pandemic happened; life happened; and it just, coronavirus was like, “No.” Now, thankfully, at the time, no one in my family was affected by coronavirus. But still, you know how the pandemic be. It just – even if you don’t have the coronavirus, it still affects you in some small way. You’re not able to do the things that you set out to do. I don’t know if anybody else has experienced that during the pandemic, but that has certainly been me. So I have been slow in getting episodes out. It’s definitely been on my mind, this podcast. I’ve been thinking about it, if not daily, definitely on a weekly basis. And many conversations I have throughout my week has been, “I need to be recording a podcast; and I’m not doing that.” I have missed you all. I have missed being on the mic. 

So hopefully you will be hearing a lot more from me. I will not make any promises as to how often you are going to hear from me, but know that you’re going to hear from me. There are some things, thankfully, that are turning around. One of the major learning curves for me this season was dealing with my oldest going to school. She’s on virtual education right now. And so figuring out a rhythm with that, figuring out just a rhythm in my household that would allow me to be able to this, to be able to record. There’s just a lot of different things that have pulled at my focus and pulled me away from recording, unfortunately.

So I am thankful to be back. I felel like that’s a lot of words to say, but I am so thankful to be back on microphone, and I am excited to talk to you today about the Racial Reckoning – and more specifically, revisiting the Racial Reckoning.

But before I get to that, I want to take a moment to encourage you all to rate and review my podcast, and also subscribe. If you’re not subscribed, please become a subscriber. But also rate and review my podcast on Apple Podcasts. It’s a great way for my podcast to get exposure. And I think that other platforms also do ratings and reviews; I’m not really sure. I’m an Apple person, so that’s where I primarily do pretty much all my podcasts. I’m not very familiar with other platforms. I think that other platforms have the ability to rate and to leave reviews; and if they do, please do that on your platform. But if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, please please please rate and review. That gives me the ability to be able to have more exposure, for more people to be able to hear what’s happening here, to hear my thoughts, to hear my ideas. And definitely if you’re in the market of giving five-star reviews; if you’re in the market of giving stunning, outstanding reviews – please do that. Of course, I’ll take your bad reviews. I’ll take your one-star reviews. I’ll take your “I hate this podcast and I just listen to it because I hate it, and because I hate Ally and I want to say mean things” – I’ll take those reviews too! Because it’s engagement, so it’s whatever. But I definitely want your four- and your five-star reviews; definitely want those. And I hope that you will go to Apple Podcasts and you will do that – you will rate and review. 

So. Getting into this discussion about the Racial Reckoning. Several months ago I had an episode where I talked about the racial reckoning that happened this summer, and shared some of my thoughts about it. And so in this episode, I want to revisit the racial reckoning. Specifically, I want to talk some about how I think that it’s fallen off. I think that we kind of have gotten into a lull with this conversation in American society, and I think that that’s a problem. I also want to talk about just some of the implications for us as we discuss this racial reckoning, and as we think about and imagine what this racial reckoning can look like – and even, maybe, perhaps, reigniting the time that we had. There are so many other – it’s a multivalent issue, so there are so many things that I want to get into, and this will probably be a two-part episode. But let me go ahead and begin.

So just in case you missed it, let me talk just a little bit about the Racial Reckoning, so we kind of – let me level-set, I think that’s a good word. I learned that word a few months ago, and I’m like, “That’s a good word, level-set.” Whenever you make sure that everybody is up to speed and at the same level with their knowledge. So, this past summer – I say summer, but really it was more like the spring into the summer – there was a heightened sense of awareness of the racial injustices that were taking place in our society: with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery; with the revelation of the murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. And so many others – Elijah McClain – he had been murdered months and months before, sometime in 2019, but his murder was revealed. There are so many people, there are so many names, that I can’t even remember. But there were so many people who were killed over the course of the spring and the summer, and their deaths came to light. 

And people started recognizing, oh, we’re in the middle of two pandemics! The racial pandemic has been going on for a long time, but people sort of put together for the first time, it seems, that, “Wow, racism is an epidemic in our society, and it’s a problem.” And I think that the pandemic was something that allowed people to be able to see in a way. You couldn’t turn away from it. You know, we were all in our homes; we were all under, at that time, a lot of COVID precautions. And at the time of this recording, it seems like a lot of stuff is shutting down; and maybe by the time you hear this recording, you’re also going to be in the middle of different shutdowns and stuff. But we were in a time whenever it was almost entirely inescapable. And everybody was on social media, everybody was on TV. Everybody was in various capacities, on various channels and various streams in our society, talking about the race issue. 

For the most part – at least what I saw – a lot of people were hearing about it and were like, “Oh, my goodness.” You always have this gasp that white people do, where it’s like, “Gasp! I just learned that there was racism today!” Now, this has been going on forever, for like 400 years; but they just discovered it today, and it’s like, “Oh, my goodness, I discovered this thing today and so now I need to talk about it, and I need to tell other people about it” – and that is a whole other discussion. But it’s something that we had: this heightened conversation, right? We had this heightened time where people had so much awareness of the injustices that were happening. And it was a conversation that you could almost not escape. And like I said, for the most part, there were people that for the most part were just now discovering it. 

And then people like me, who’ve been, we’ve been talking our heads off about this for years – for decades, even for some folks – have been talking our heads off about this thing: we sort of had our moment, when people were like, “Oh, listen to this person!” There were books that had been out for a year or better, that were – I think some of the books had even been out for two or three years – that made the New York Times best-seller list. There was a time in June, I think, the first three or four weeks – the first three weeks, or maybe even the entire month of June – the New York Times best-seller list, the top 10 in the New York Times best-seller list, were all books on race. A lot of these books were books that had been around for a long time – they didn’t just come out – but people were like, “Oh, racism! OK, let me go and read these books!” that a lot of people had been recommending – some of them had been books that I had been recommending for as long as they had been out. But people were like, “Let’s get out here.” And so it sort of catapulted into the national consciousness.

Now, of course there were people who had something to say about it, and who were not as willing to learn, and not as willing to receive information and to receive correction, and to receive all the things that we would hope they would want to receive. There was some pushback, and there were some people are going to cling to their racism, and they’re going to cling to it, and you’re going to have to pry it out of their cold, dead hands. And so there was a lot of that out there too. And there was a lot of back and forth, and a lot of people – as it always goes. You have people who are, “Hey, yeah, this is a thing” and then you have the brand-new  people, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s a thing!” and the other people who are like, “This isn’t a thing.” And so you have the first two groups arguing with the latter group. And it’s just a whole mess. 

But the conversation comes up, and people start to learn, and you get the “O Promise Me”s from white folks, and your DMs who are, you know, “Oh my goodness, this is so horrible; I’m going to change, I’m going to make sure, I’m going to speak out,” whatever. And a small percentage of those people do. They do commit their lives; they do commit their existence from that point forward to making sure that they are examining themselves and checking others. But for the most part it is a lot of empty sentiment. And I hate to say that. I really – I really hate to say that. It’s something that I kind of had hoped wouldn’t happen this time, because it seemed like something was happening, it seemed that there was a shift. It seemed like something was happening; but it seemed like, at the same time, once the initial heat was off, once the protests had happened, once, you know, different things had started to shift – the attention started to shift.

Now, to be fair, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and we also started to see a surge toward the end of the summer. We’ve seen multiple surges in different places. Not every place has surged at the same time. And so the conversation has had to a shift a little bit, from the racism pandemic to the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, you could still pivot to racism, even within coronavirus; because it’s still Black people and Indigenous people and brown people, other people of color, who are dying from this virus at such a disproportional rate. And there are so many inequities that it’s easy to pivot to race – really rom anything, but especially if you start talking about the pandemic. But it’s understandable. You know, the pandemic is going on, still, and that would take attention. 

And the same with the election. As August rolled around, we had the different conventions from the two major political parties, and so of course, the conventions, and the discussion at the conventions, and the discussion of the candidates – that’s something that was going to take front and center. And race did play into some of the discussion there. Race played into some of the discussion about who the vice presidential nominee would be – that played into the conversation. Of course, we got Kamala Harris. The conversation played into some different facets of presidential politics, for sure. There were questions at the debates that we had about race. But for me, sometimes those questions felt kind of ornamental, and some of the discussion felt ornamental; and I won’t get too deep into that. 

But you know, there certainly are things that we could mark out and we could say, “Well, you know, if this thing had not happened this summer, there might not have been the questions about race that there had been, at the presidential debate.” If we hadn’t had this moment of racial reckoning this summer, there might not have been some of the gestures, some of the symbolic gestures from things like the NFL and the NBA, and Major League Baseball, and hockey, and whatever. We might not have seen some of those things. There might be certain moments that wouldn’t have happened in our culture, the way that they would have happened, if we had not been at this backdrop of racial reckoning.

So I think that there’s something to be said about that. Yet, at the same time, I listen to this, I see all of these things, and I can’t help but feel just a little bit jaded. Because it’s like, well, you know, the conversation is not at the same level that it was. Just in our general discourse, it’s not there in the way that it was before. 

Now, of course, to be fair, to be reasonable: to protest in the streets for hundreds of days, for a year, for whatever – there get to be some practicalities to it where people have to keep living their lives. And their lives, most people’s lives, are not centered on dismantling racism. It’s not – their lives aren’t centered on antiracism work. So I don’t want to seem unduly or unnecessarily focused on, “Well, the conversation has to just be at this certain level – it has to just be at the same level that it’s always been.” I don’t want to be so focused on that, right? Where it’s just like, oh, well, the conversation – everybody has to be out in the street, protesting. Everybody has to be on Facebook, talking about it. It has to be all anyone can talk about on the news or in any other type of media type setting. That’s not what I’m saying. 

But whenever I say that the racial reckoning has sort of fallen off, has sort of fallen by the wayside, what I mean is that I think that – as I said, there are things that rightly have replaced it in the national conversation. I shouldn’t say “rightly have replaced it” – that’s not exactly what I want to say. What I mean is, there are other conversations that we’ve needed to have also. There are other things that we’ve needed to talk about also. But I can’t help but feel a little bit – I’m not sure what the word to use is. I guess “put out” maybe is what I want to say. I can’t help but feel a little bit put out because it seems like everything – all of the bold declarations that people made this summer, all of the book buying that people did – I still have books that I was like, oh yeah, I need to send to people; I still have books I need to send to people. But all the book buying that people did, all of the coffees that people had – the virtual coffees, hopefully, that people were having – it seems like that part of the conversation has died out. 

And I don’t think that – we could say, “That part of the conversation, that’s really like an immature part of the conversation, so why do we want to keep that going?” It’s not that I want to stay at that part of the conversation; it’s that I don’t think that the conversation has evolved from there. I want to talk about this a little bit more in the next segment. 

[MUSIC]

HENNY: In the last segment, I talked about last summer’s racial reckoning, and I talked about some of the evolution of that conversation. Specifically, I talked about how I felt like that conversation sort of has fallen off over the last several months. So in this segment I want to talk a little bit more about how the conversation has evolved, and what exactly the evolution of this conversation means for Black people.

Something that I’ve observed over the years is that the race conversation in America often happens in cycles and waves. And unfortunately, the cycles and waves are often centered upon Black people having some sort of collective, traumatic experience. So, for example, the latest racial reckoning – what we’ve started to refer to as sort of the Racial Reckoning this summer – it started with the public murder of Ahmaud Arbery. It started with watching this man be lynched on our phones. It started with that. And then it went to finding out about Breonna Taylor’s death. And it went to seeing Christian Cooper being assailed by the white woman in Central Park, being threatened to have the police called on him in Central Park; and then also, on the same day, finding out about the murder of George Floyd. It’s always this cataclysmic type of event that it takes for the conversation to be reignited. 

And I’m talking, you know, in the last five or six years. It’s taken this type of thing happening. It’s taken watching a Black person literally take their last breaths on our devices for some people to have a modicum of conscience about them – for their conscience to feel pricked. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s gross, honestly. I think it’s a huge problem that it takes that – it takes something just so ugly and horrific as those things that I mentioned – for people to feel mobilized to fight racial injustice. 

And the unfortunate part about it, and the reason why I call it cycles and waves, that it happens in cycles and waves, is that people will get indignant – and when I say “people,” I mean, it’s everybody. But white people especially will get indignant about something that happened in society, and that indignation lasts for a few weeks, maybe a couple of months – there are maybe a few small strides that are made – and then it’s just like it fades away. All of the righteous indignation and everything else fades away. And I really have a problem with that. Because the implication for that is that Black people have to endure trauma in order for us to experience any kind of progress in this nation, any kind of progress in terms of race in this nation. And that just shouldn’t be.

Now, I want to talk about – I want to imagine what it would look like for that to not be the case, and that will likely be Part 2 of this episode. But for right now I want to park here, and I want to talk about the problem that I have with that. The fact that it takes Black people experiencing collective trauma and walking out a collective grief process in front of the entire nation: I just think that that is extremely humiliating. I think that that’s something – it doesn’t benefit us to do that. It doesn’t benefit us to have to experience that. Yet that is the way that it is. And there is a gross amount of injustice in that.

And so that’s something that I want to acknowledge. I think it is so important to acknowledge. And so even with that, in conjunction with that, we have to acknowledge that it’s not Black people’s responsibility to keep the conversation going.

When I say that it’s not our responsibility to keep the conversation going, I don’t mean that we shouldn’t lead the conversation. What I mean is that I don’t think that we need to put ourselves out there as a sacrificial lamb for this conversation. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice our health, our mental health, our well-being, just to get people to acknowledge the fact that we have the right to exist. I don’t think that that, in the long run, plays very well for us. I think that white people, that there is an impetus on them to collect their own people. They need to learn from us; they need to listen to us; they need to follow our guidance; they need to follow the things that we say that we want to dictate about our own liberty; but at the end of the day, they have to collect their people! They need to talk to their own folks, and they need to get their own folks to act right. 

And I just don’t think that it is fit for us to be out here, laying ourselves down in such a way that – it’s another form of assault, really, whenever we put ourselves out there in such a way. We watch the assault of Black bodies on our phones, on our TV screens, we hear about it in the news; and then we lay ourselves out there in such a way as to be assaulted by white people in a psychological sense – if not a physical sense, in a psychological sense – where we are constantly having to cater to their sense of well-being, where we’re having to cater to their educational needs, where we’re having to cater in a way that — they can figure out how to exist in every other facet of society, but they can’t figure out how to not be racist. 

For me, that dog doesn’t hunt. That dog don’t hunt. We have got to figure out a way to be able to have this conversation – to be able to lead this conversation – without it essentially killing us.

You know, there’s the story that we often hear about Dr. King, about how, at his autopsy, the doctor that performed it – I think it was his autopsy, or maybe it was working on him after he got shot; I don’t remember the exact circumstances. But they talk about how he was a man, he was 39 years old whenever he was assassinated, but he had the heart of a 60-year-old. And that’s the story that constantly gets put out there. We talk about the stress, we talk about the toll that racism – it’s called “weathering,” is actually what this effect is called, that just the enduring, systemic racism has an effect on us. Well, think about it. Think about the effect that, if you’re somebody who is out here, who is speaking about racism, who’s educating, who’s talking to your white friends, your white colleagues, the white people – you’re yelling at the void on social media, whatever – whatever lane you’re occupying in this work: think about the emotional toll that it starts to take on you after a while. 

I mean, there are so many times whenever I have had to, whenever other friends have had to step away from doing the work – when we’ve had to step away from social media, when we’ve had to mute certain channels, where we’ve had to do a lot of different things just to be able to feel like we could survive; just to attend to our own needs and attend to our own physical, our own psychological, our own spiritual needs. 

And so I think that we sometimes put ourselves in the position where we rightly want to take the reins of our own liberation – and I don’t think that’s ever anything that we cede to other people – that we say, “Well, OK, here, you dictate to us what it means to be free.” I don’t think that’s something that we – that’s never ground that we cede. 

But sometimes I think that we don’t do a good job of recognizing what battle is our battle. And so sometimes we get caught up, I think, as a people – and don’t take this if it don’t apply – but I think sometimes Black people, I think that we – not all of us, but a lot of us – move into spaces that really aren’t for us to be operating in. We move into lanes and we’re driving in lanes that really are not for us. Because we want to see the work – and I think especially Black women – we want to, we feel this need to give birth to our freedom, to give birth to our liberation – that we do so in ways that are not always healthy, and they’re not always balanced.

And that’s another conversation for another day. But I make that point to get to this point: that I think that as we talk about the conversation falling off, we need to not take an undue level of responsibility for the conversation falling off. It’s not fallen off because Black people haven’t been out here talking about it enough. It hasn’t fallen off because Black people haven’t been doing enough and saying enough and being enough and being whatever the heck enough. That’s not what’s happening. The conversation has fallen off because, first of all, that’s just the way that it works. That’s just the way that whiteness works. That’s the way that our society works. We do not have attention for, nor do we have object permanence for, certain issues, certain things that happen. Because we are in the Information Age, and we are being inundated with information all the time. And so it’s hard to keep track of everything that happens. 

I think about it from a perspective that doesn’t really have anything to do with race as much as of life. I think about, you know, different people on Twitter. Like there’s times I’m on Twitter, and there’s so many different controversies and different things, different people on Black Twitter that’s like, “Oh, this person did this, this person’s trash, this person blah blah blah,” and we forget – there are times whenever I forget that certain people are canceled. Like people will be talking about this thing, this event that happened, and I’ll be like, “Wow, I forgot all about that. I forgot that that person showed out like that. I forgot that person, that we were dragging that person months ago.” Because there’s just so much information. And it is hard to keep track of who did what to whom, when, where, and why. 

And that’s just something that doesn’t really have anything to do with whiteness; it just has to do with the age that we’re in. But whenever we factor whiteness into it – whenever we factor white saviorism, all these different toxic aspects of whiteness into it – it means that people aren’t going to pay attention to an issue unless it’s in their face; unless it is unavoidable. And frankly, we don’t have the juice to constantly be out here: “Hey, remember that racism is a thing that exists, and you should do something about it.” We just don’t have the juice to be able to do that. And so one of the very unfortunate consequences – I can’t even call it an “unintended consequence,” because I think it’s just the way that white supremacy works: it’s not a bug, it’s a feature – is that it necessitates us going through trauma in order for people to have some sort of sense of our humanity, and some sort of sense of, “Hey, there is an issue, there’s a problem” – like, “Hey, there’s a real problem here that needs to be fixed.” 

And so, like, white folks just think that because they got, they went out and marched in the street for a couple of weeks, and because they bought a book, and they had a conversation with their racist grandpa – a lot of them think that they did, that it’s a thing that they do, rather than it being a thing that they embody. A lot of them don’t get that antiracism is something that you have to embody, and it has to be part of your whole self – just like for us, our liberation, it has to be something that is part of our whole self. Otherwise, we will start to get into that sunken place. We will start to sink back; we will start to move toward white supremacy if we are not actively thinking about, actively questioning, the systems; actively questioning the themes, the narratives, the ideas that we are being presented with. We have the ability to sink back and to get down into that sunken place, and to not know what’s up – not to evolve ourselves.

And I think that that aspect of evolution in the conversation is something that is so important for us. I think it’s important for white people; it’s important for them to learn how to embody antiracism. But for us as a people, we have to start to think about how to have a conversation in a way that we are able to take our agency back; that instead of being reactive to what’s happening in society, we need to find a way to be able to be proactive. And I say that, and that’s not – don’t hear that as a rebuke, at all. That’s not a putdown. (I said “rebuke,” that’s like a super church-person word. I didn’t mean to sound like super church in there, “Ooh, a rebuke!”) But I don’t mean that as shame. Like, I don’t mean that as, “We’re not doing enough; we’ve got to imagine, we’ve got to” – like, whatever. I’m not saying it like that. What I’m saying is that we often only are able to react, because we experience such an assault, we experience so much oppression, that it’s like this cycle of having to – we’re having to understand the ways in which we are being oppressed in society. And we have to work to undo the conditioning that tells us that we are inferior, that tells us that we lack; that tells us all sorts of things that aren’t true about us. We’re having to do that work; and then we’re also having to do the work of healing from the trauma that we’ve experienced. And so then, whenever something else big comes up, like whenever we see a person dying on our phone screen, we then have to mitigate the trauma from that. And there’s so much that happens, that that oppression steals our imagination. It steals the ability for us to be able to not be operating in a crisis mode, or in a maintenance-and-rebuilding mode from a crisis.

And I think that that has been especially true of almost the last decade. I think that I can speak, particularly, as a Millennial, for my generation. I think that we have had to deal with that in a way that I won’t say is in any way unique from any other generation or any other time; but I think that that’s something that we’ve had to deal with. And we’ve had to deal with in a way because – especially in the pandemic, but a lot of our social networks, a lot of our life is lived in the public square of social media – that it’s not just our community that we live in. It’s not just like our geophysical location that we have to be concerned about injustice in. We have access to, and knowledge of, the injustices that are taking place not just in our own town, not just in our own city, not even just in our own country. In the whole world, we have access to, and we can learn about and hear about and read about the different ways that people who look like us are being oppressed. And so whenever we do that, there’s almost – I think that a lot of us feel a sense of, it’s just, it’s overwhelming. And so we want to try to fight in every single battle. We want to try to be in every single place, and try to take care of it.

There are some of us, you know, we talk about “fight, flight, freeze, or fawn.” I think some of us fight, you know, and we’re in every single battle. There are some of us that flee. Some of us are that get into that flight. You talk about fight, and then you have flight, where people are just like, “OK, I’m gonna run away from it, and I’m just going to watch movies” or whatever. And then there’s some of us that freeze, that are just like, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.” And you just end up in a place of despair, just a place of, “I have no idea what to do, so I’m just not going to do anything about it at all. I’m just not even going to acknowledge it.” Or you get into fawn, and I could talk about that a little bit more. But fawning essentially is where it becomes this place – in this instance, I’ll place fawning as where it sort of becomes, “OK white supremacy is a thing; but if I just become a good Black person, if I somehow am able to impress my oppressors, then I will stop being oppressed.” 

And we end up in some of these places, we end up with some of these rhythms in our lives, that can just be so unhealthy and be so difficult for us, that whenever I say then, it’s not on us to keep the conversation going – that it’s on them to collect their own people – sometimes it can be difficult to think beyond, just like, “If I’m not leading the conversation, then who is?” And I think that we have to imagine what it means to have this conversation in a way, to fight for our freedom in a way that doesn’t diminish from us, but builds us up and is healthy.

So I want to talk about that a little bit more in the next segment.

[MUSIC]

HENNY: In the last segment I talked about revisiting the racial reckoning, and what its implications are for Black people. In this segment, very briefly, I want us to use our imaginations. In fact, this segment is kind of a setup for the second part of this episode of talking about the Racial Reckoning, in which I want for us to be able to imagine what it would look like for Black folks to be able to fight for our freedom, and to be able to do so without having to respond to trauma; to be able to take a proactive stance in dealing with racism; and then, hopefully, even being able to imagine a world where there isn’t racism, or where racism is greatly minimized.

I really believe that racism steals our imaginations. It steals our collective imaginations, as Black people. We do so much to avoid being oppressed. We do so much thinking about our oppression. We do so much thinking about how we can decolonize our minds, how we can heal from the trauma. We do so much to recognize the trauma that we’ve been through. And we do so much to alert others within our community, but also people outside of our community, to the evils and the results of racism. We do that so much that often we don’t have the opportunity to think beyond that. So we don’t have the opportunity to think just about like the immediate future, and what do we do? How do we advocate for ourselves without having to react to something that’s happened? We don’t have the ability to do that. And whenever I say we don’t have the ability to do that, I don’t mean that we literally don’t possess the ability to do it. Because that’s the ability to do it. I mean that racism is so oppressive that it steals that ability. It steals that from us.

The next thing is that we really don’t even have the ability, often, to imagine the future future. So not just like the near-present future, but the future future. What would a world without racism look like? Or what would a world with minimal racism look like? What does liberation actually mean, and what does liberation actually look like for us? We frankly don’t often get the opportunity to dream in that respect. And there are some of us, there are people – I don’t want to say that it’s Black people, categorically, that don’t get to do this. There are people who have touched that, who touch that in a sense. But I think that there’s a way that even sometimes that can be carried, that it is almost out of touch with reality; because the reality is that we’re still oppressed. And I think at times we have people who are so focused on our liberation, that they fail to build the bridge from where we’re at now, to where they want us to be. Like there’s a whole path that we as a people have to walk. And sometimes I think that that path can be kind of foggy. 

And then for the people who are activists in the moment, who are taking care of the moment, often the focus becomes just on the moment that we’re in, that we don’t really see the future. We have trouble being able to see and to touch and to imagine the future. 

And so I think that it’s important for us to start to use our imagination. And, you know, I don’t have the capacity, and I don’t have the time in this episode, and certainly – I don’t feel like – I feel it would take many episodes of this podcast to unpack a future for Black people, and to think about what the future for Black people looks like. It’s something that I want to do. I have it on – it’s not really a vision board, it’s just something, a long-term thing that I want to do: I want to start to think in those terms. But unfortunately the current oppression – like I said, it takes those opportunities to think and to dream, away.

But as we think about just the near future, as we think about, we’re going into a new presidential administration: what would it look like for us to start to push the issue of race without having to respond to national trauma? And I’m going to get into this more in the next episode. But I think that we should take advantage of our political situation in the United States. I think that we should take advantage of the fact that we are coming out a horribly racist, a very difficult administration – this has been a very difficult four years – and it’s not over yet. There are some people if they have their say, it wouldn’t be over. But I’m just believing that it’s going to be over, and that Joe Biden is the president, and that he will be the president, come January 20, 2021. 

And so we have the opportunity. And not to sound overly optimistic, and not to be just, “Oh, this is going to be pie in the sky, it’s going to be great, racism’s going to be over” – but to be realistic, but at the same time to have hope. I want us to start to look toward this new administration with hope.

Now, there are some problems with that, and I will talk about those in the next episode. But for now, I think that we should start to position ourselves, and we should start to think: What does it look like for us as a community to become more active – more politically active, more socially active. Not that we aren’t already. But what would it look like for us to come together in a way that is unprecedented, using the social networks – using all the things that we have at our disposal now, all the tools that we have at our disposal – to be able to effect broader change?

You’ll have to stay tuned to the next episode to hear what else I’m thinking about. Peace.

[MUSIC]

“Combing the Roots” is powered by The Witness – A Black Christian Collective. Special thanks to executive producers Tyler Burn and Beau York. Catch up with what I’m doing on these internet streets by visiting allyhenny.com. There you’ll be able to connect to my Twitter feed, my Instagram, and my Facebook writer’s page. I’m your host, Ally Henny. Peace.

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]

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