This week and particularly this weekend has been a very heavy weekend for America and for the city of Chicago. It’s been heavy for awhile. And as I share this post with you, it’s something I’ve thought about for days and wrestled with.
This week very sadly marked the brutal death of George Floyd in Minnesota by a police officer and three other officers who stood by in silence. A video of the injustice ignited fire in our hearts and in our streets. Glass was shattered, police cars were set on fire, peaceful protests embarked and as always, there were a lot of social media posts.
This is heavy. This is not easy to be part of or to watch. Cities are being burned down. Bridges are up. Over 130 businesses were damaged downtown in Chicago according to CNN.
And there comes a feeling of frustration and helplessness. That’s how I feel as a white women writing this. What can be done? How can we do better? Where do we go from here? I sit here mulling this over, talking about it, thinking about it, watching more outrage about it. I feel paralyzed.
One of the things I’ve been doing is listening. I’ve been watching the videos, where some of my friends and acquaintances have broken down and cried sharing what racism and this moment means for them. And I cry with them.
I have had conversations with family members and friends and coworkers. To check-in. To say I’m here. To listen. To challenge the need for change.
I have been glued to CNN and Twitter.
Windy City Cosmo is about connections at its very core. And those start with conversations and understanding others and standing by others and showing up for others. That is when true connections happen.
The best part of living in a city and of living in America is that there are so many diverse voices and backgrounds. Listen to those voices. Start conversations with them.
I encourage you, if you are feeling lost, if you are feeling heartbroken, start with listening and reading and understanding. And if you can, donate, volunteer and get involved.
What to Read:
One of the books that I read a few years ago in book club was “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It is written as a letter to the author’s teenage son about the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being Black in the United States. It is something I am re-reading now and it created a deep conversation in my book club.
Another book that I’ve seen widely referenced is “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin Diangelo. The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
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I don’t even know where to start. • • We have to stop being ok with the White terrorism that is America. We have to stop being ok with executions of black bodies becoming a normal part of our social media feeds. We do ourselves a disservice if we don’t understand our history. If we think this is new. If we think this is normal. • • If you’re Black: I see you. I feel you. I’m exhausted too. We are beautiful. We are worthy. We matter. If you’re not Black: stop the performative solidarity and figure out what you can do. Work on yourself. Work on your community. Support the people who are doing the work. Get okay with the idea that if change is to come, you’re going to have to readjust your relationship to your privilege. • • I just put together a list of 50+ nonfiction books that deal in anti-Black racism and anti-racism. This stack is just the tip of the iceberg. • • Please share your favorite books that deal in anti-Black racism. • • Keep reading. Do the work. #thestacks
Buzzfeed put out an extensive reading list about racism that you can check out here.
Where to Donate and Become Involved:
Reclaim the Block: Reclaim the Block is calling on Minneapolis, MN to invest in violence prevention, housing, resources for youth, emergency mental health response teams, and solutions to the opioid crisis – not more police.
Communities United Against Police Brutality: CUAPB provides assistance to individuals and families dealing with the effects of police brutality. They offer a 24-hour crisis line (612-874-STOP) that people can call to report instances of abuse. In addition, they have an educational component to inform communities about police brutality and justice system issues.
Black Lives Matter Chicago: They work to end state violence and criminalization of Black communities by deconstructing white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy. This organization is 100% volunteer led and they work with a number of groups in Chicago including Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and The Let Us Breathe Collective. You can donate directly to Black Lives Matter Chicago or become involved with other organizations they work with in the city.
There are a lot more organizations to become involved in. When I want to become involved in my community, I research organizations near me. You will be surprised by how many nonprofits and groups there are right by you that you can help with.
Hope for the Future:
Everyday we have an opportunity to love our neighbors as ourselves, to learn about them and support them, respect them, hire them, work with them, become friends with them, check-in on them and care about them.
Today and always, I urge you to treat others how you want to be treated, to hold yourself and others accountable for their actions, and to continue the conversations with your friends, family, neighbors and community.
Thinking of you. Community needs love, care, and conversations. It also needs accountability. Stay Safe.
Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.