Over the past few days as I learned of the police murdering Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, I will admit that my first impulse was to close my eyes. To say "not again" and close myself off inside so I wouldn't have to be impacted by this painful truth that my Black friends and neighbors have no choice but to face every day.
As a white man in this country that was, as Andrea Smith reminds us, built on the enslavement of Black people, the genocide and land theft of indigenous peoples, and a state of constant war against the "other," this is exactly the response that is expected of me. But I know that when white people like me turn away from seeing how the police actually exist to uphold our deeply racist culture, it keeps this horrific system in place.
When I face the truth head on and allow the grief and the rage to well up inside me, I am moved to take action. I joined the protest in the streets of Oakland on Thursday night to mourn and rage in community. One of the speakers that night said something that has stuck with me: "You don't have to be a revolutionary to take revolutionary action."
I believe very deeply that we are stronger when we act together. I was moved to write this song "Strong" for that reason, and I'd like to share it with you:
The Movement for Black Lives has been calling on all of us to step it up, shut it down, and build a movement that will bring down white supremacy once and for all. It's going to take each and every one of us being bold and taking risks as if our own liberation depends on it -- because truthfully, it does.
If you are looking for ways to get involved, I encourage you to start by making a donation to a Black-lead racial justice organization. Find an action near you and attend with a friend or family member. If you're white, join the local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice. If you're in the Bay Area, go to one of the upcoming trainings by Critical Resistance to learn more about what to do in an emergency instead of calling the police and the work they're doing locally to abolish policing. Get involved with the multi-racial coalition the Anti Police-Terror Project.
I also recommend these suggestions by Kenny Wiley. They're geared toward Unitarian Universalists, but we can all do the things he suggests, whether we're religious or not.
I'll admit it feels a bit strange for me to be publicizing shows in light of everything that's happening in the world. But this feels to me like an important time to be in community, and I know that music can be healing to hear and to play.
I invite you to join me at these shows coming up:
Wednesday, July 13th
The Lost Church
65 Capp St, San Francisco, CA
with Mya Byrne and Kathleen Knighton
Tickets $10 in Advance, $15 at the Door
All Ages, Not Wheelchair Accessible
Saturday, August 6th
E-mail Jeff to RSVP and get the address
Saturday, August 27th