You may have seen a lot of your social media friends changing their profile pictures to solid black or mentioning something about the hashtag, Blackout Tuesday. What exactly is Blackout Tuesday/Blackout Week? (Juneteenth is coming up, too, FYI.)

The best way that I can explain Blackout Tuesday is that it's an effort by many to recognize and uplift the voices of Black Americans on this particular week after the death of George Floyd by 4 Minneapolis police officers. Black Americans as a whole, along with many allies of all colors, are fed up with accepting systemic injustice, particularly by those sworn to serve and protect us.

Blackout Tuesday is also a way to lift up locally Black-owned businesses and show them some love, which I will get to in just a bit!

Let me help you see why #BlackoutTuesday matters. Think about this: how many locally black-owned businesses in the Yakima Valley can you name? If it takes you longer than a few seconds to list one off the tip of your tongue, then that is part of the reason why #Blackout Tuesday is so important in the first place.

Okay, how about I ask you many Latino businesses can you name? You had a few more names to list, didn't you? How many Native-owned businesses can you name? That list is light, too. How many Asian businesses can you name? Are you straining to think of some? Do you see my point?

Now, if I was to ask you how many white businesses can you name, well, there is a whole phone book full of those! (Hopefully, you still remember what a phone book is, ha, ha!)

You might be irritated by me asking you those questions. You might even be thinking to yourself, "I don't see color." You have likely told that to one or all of your Native, Black, Hispanic, or Asian friends to "reassure" them that you are not racist, and that you love all people, blah, blah, blah.

I'm here to give it to you straight, it is not helping your case to keep telling us that and here's why:

  • It's quite insulting to tell us that you "don't see color" because we deserve to be seen! We are each unique, and the human race comes in a huge variety of shades and reflections of melanin.
  • We should CELEBRATE our cultural differences and we should all be allowed to feel beautiful and worthy in our skin.
  • Don't pretend you "don't see" me, I WANT you TO SEE me! I'm looking at you, why aren't you looking at me?!
  • Are you pretending that you don't notice that we both have a different skin tone? Are you ashamed of my skin tone? Of yours? Why are you even saying "I don't see color, as though the color doesn't exist? It's because THAT'S WHAT YOU WERE TAUGHT. You were taught WRONG.

Here are a couple of instances I have dealt with during the past three days that I have to get off my chest:

  • A white friend of mine told me that her 9-year-old daughter asked her "why are we still talking about racism today when Martin Luther King, Jr. already solved it?" HE ALREADY SOLVED IT?? Are you kidding me? Is this what our young kids are being taught in elementary school?
  • A white friend asked me for a list of book recommendations to other white women so that they could better understand institutional racism and why intersectionality is important in today's world. (She said that she was asked by our mutual friend to come up with this list.) I wondered out loud why didn't our mutual friend go to the source and ask an actual Black person for suggestions on understanding racism. Why are white people asking other white people for suggestions on how to understand how Black people are dealing with racism??

Here are some ways you can make a difference today:

  • LISTEN to your minority friends when they tell you about the racism and injustice that they have personally experienced.
  • Donate to Black organizations and nonprofits; donate to nonprofits that provide resources to folks of color, including Black ones; donate to bailing out non-violent offenders who are only still in jail because they cannot afford bail
  • Telling Black people to suck it up and deal with it is officially unacceptable. Black people are sick and tired of being told by society to "turn the other cheek" of forgiveness after they've been traumatized by racism. Our new generations aren't playing that game anymore!
  • Quit yelling "ALL LIVES MATTER" to Black people because, and I don't know why you haven't noticed this before-- of COURSE they all do! It's the BLACK ones that are letting you know they are struggling right now. We want and DESERVE a seat at the table of justice, too.
  • Stop posting those Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes you've been putting on social media thinking that will show solidarity. Dr. King was a peaceful, non-violent man and despite that, HE WAS STILL KILLED. What I am trying to say is that simply quoting Dr. King is a very passive and unsatisfactory way to find a solution to the problem of injustice.
  • Realize that colorism is still a huge issue in the world, and do what you can to stop it in its tracks when you see it happening around you. If you don't know what colorism is, you can look it up on Google for free.
  • Stop asking your Black friends and other People of Color to do the emotional labor for you. Do your OWN investigations into the cause of racism, the differences between racism-prejudice-discrimination--each one of those things is not the same. (Your minority friend can't be "racist" to you, but they can be "prejudiced" against you. Go look up the dang difference so that you are educated!)
  • Stop equating all looters with Black people. If you actually watch the news, you will see that there are a significant amount of white people who are starting these riots and breaking windows and spraying graffiti on buildings. (Don't be like Linda Hogan!)

Another thing, this country wasn't even founded by menfolk who sucked things up and dealt with it. Nope, they courageously banded together against a powerful entity (England) to stand up for themselves, and they demanded respect. That sentiment of solidarity is being felt all over this country with regard to Black people who are having to once again demand the acknowledgment of their humanity. America has been pathetically dealing with this unnecessary trauma for some 400 years. It is EXHAUSTING!

These Black businesses matter, too. I am using my platform to give them a shout out because no one else is.

When I moved to the Yakima Valley in 2002, I often wondered, where are all the Black people! Let's face it, African-Americans are a minority group in the Yakima Valley. It is hard to find someone to do our hair, In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone white came up to me and asked if I knew where they could get their Black child's hair braided or styled, I'd be a Yakima Valley millionaire. It is hard for Black adults and children to receive mental health services given by someone who looks like us and has that first-hand experience navigating our American world with our shared cultural experiences.

If you are Black and do not attend one of the historically Black churches, you might even more secluded in this town without the comfort of belonging to a large local Black community, but do not fret. I have managed to make it some 18 years in the Yakima Valley without that privilege. I have learned to seek out community and people I can get support from where I can find it, whether they be Black or non-Black. I became an engaged volunteer at the YWCA Yakima because of its commitment to Social Justice, and I became a member of the local chapter of the NAACP so that I can have the connections I am missing.

Jumping off my soapbox now!

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A friend of mine wanted to do a shout out to Black-owned businesses to support and I told her to make sure she gives me a shout out because I have a Black-owned morning show (I don't own the radio station but I own the way I do my show on the radio station, HA!)

Here is a list of the only other Black-owned businesses I know of. Please feel free to add to this list to

Eric Silvers, State Farm Insurance Agent: 1 N 9th Street, Yakima

Miz Dee's BBQ: 523 W Yakima Ave, Yakima

Dr. Caryn Jackson, MD, Yakima Neighborhood Health: 12 South 8th St, Yakima

Fiamo Healing Center: 1112 W Spruce St, Yakima

 

Here is that list of book suggestions I sent to my friend:

Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism, and History (Feminist Classics) by Vron Ware

  • Women, Race, and Class by Angela B. Davis
  • Jazz Age Josephine: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-re…/jazz-age-josephine (children's book)
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Viola Desmond Won't Be Judged! by Jody Nyasha Warner & Richard Rudnicki (children's book)
  • Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins (children's book)
  • The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae (my guilty pleasure)