By Annett James, President, NAACP Boulder County
There is no place in the United States, and arguably the world, where Black people are considered equal among White people — nor are they afforded the opportunity to truly coexist in environments where they’re safe from the burdens of systemic anti-Black racism. Equality demands the removal of all externally imposed barriers that prevent a human being from realizing his/her/their fullest potential.
Safety demands that Black bodies not be wrongfully and disproportionately subjected to deadly force at the hands/knees of law enforcement, or having to continually endure the daily micro-aggressions of de facto policing by emboldened white citizens who challenge our very existence.
The construct of race, as created by White people, was a masterful one. So much so, that it has effectively perpetuated the ongoing conscious/unconscious lie that whiteness, alone, is the preeminent currency of the land. As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in the 1960s, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” This evil, yet brilliantly crafted institution of white supremacy is what Black people are forced to deal with, day in and day out.
All of the horrors of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, disparities in health and wealth, and police brutality were born, and continue to thrive, because of this system. While the reality of the inhumane and rigorous treatment of Black people spurs feelings of guilt and fragility among some of our White counterparts, sympathetic gestures are no longer (nor have they ever been) sufficient. The fact that Whites are privileged by, and have benefited from, this insidious institution for over 400 years is not a secret and endears no adoration. It is high time for reconciliation, as this way of life is no longer tenable and has run its course, FOR US ALL. Black people are #DoneDying.
This mountain of systemic racism can be dismantled. However, to do so peacefully will require courage. The dismantling process depends on the skills of those who have previously had the luxury of silence to speak out. Not in that intellectual — straddling the fence, looking for some neutral false equivalent — kind of way, but with the voice of righteousness and moral commitment. Be on the right side of history and grab the Arc now.
THINK • LEARN • TAKE ACTION
Educate yourself and share it with others.
“It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the
white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Racism’s survival depends on mis-education or the disregard thereof. Making allowances for not knowing is no longer an excuse, knowledge is immediately accessible (put a few keywords in Google — read The 1619 Project)
Choose your language carefully.
Become familiar with biases used in everyday speech. Many words and phrases seem benign but really reinforce white domination (e.g., “majority minority”) — these words are numerical terms and can’t be both.
If Blacks and/or People of Color represent the greater ‘portion’ then that means they are the majority! And my yoga favorite: “white knuckle grip” — Black people don’t have white knuckles regardless of the pressure applied. In short, check all your colloquialisms.
Support financial reparations for Black Americans.
Donate to Black organizations and institutions and support Black-owned businesses.
“Slavery was the tainted fuel that kindled the fires
of U.S. capitalism and made the country grow.”
–Edward Ball, “Slaves in the Family”
Suggested Reading: “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” by Edward Baptist; “The Case for Black Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic.
Be a truthful parent.
All too often, my Black friends recount the fragility by which White parents react when their young child exhibits curiosity at the sight of a Black person. By refusing to validate to the child that he/she is seeing a Black person, the parent is engaging in willful denial and passing it on to the child.
These subliminal messages lead to 911 calls void of need — just an exhibition of having been emotionally discomforted.
Take some ownership of guilt.
President Clinton apologized for the slave trade, but the mere suggestion that an apology for the institution of slavery would be uttered was confoundedly met with a swift and resounding NO. To apologize would mean acknowledging that something wrong had taken place and it would make whites feel guilty.
Guilt says some part of your humanity remains capable of awaking.
Join NAACP Boulder Branch.
NAACP was founded in 1909 by a racial diverse group of woke individuals to fight against Lynching. Here in Boulder, our efforts are to ensure a community in which all individuals have equal rights and where racial discrimination is not tolerated.
We welcome all who share this vision to join us and help speed up this reality.
Annett James is a mom, speaker, an advocate for
social and economic equality, and president of NAACP Boulder County Branch.
A native of rural Mississippi, she found her way to Boulder, Colorado to study at the University of Colorado, and has lived in Boulder since.
Annett has always had a passion for education, economics and business. These interests bloomed during her studies. She was a member of Black Student Alliance, and supported the First Nations Committee. They were the catalyst to her membership in multiple nonprofit organizations and boards, including the Family Learning Center and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. A former chair of the United Black Women of Boulder Valley, she worked to promote the educational, economic, political and social welfare of Black people in Boulder Valley.
During her time as an investment broker, she taught training seminars for Black and People of Color that focused on the importance of financial planning that included knowledge of debt and equity instruments. She was one of a small group of investment brokers that lobbied fortune 500 companies to conduct some of their stock trades using Black brokers. Annett enjoys inventing and product development and has a granted utility patent.
Annett helped to found the Joan Washington Scholarship Fund which provided a monetary stipend to Black high school graduates from Boulder and St. Vrain Valley School Districts and the Charles and Mildred Nilon Scholarship which is awarded to a student majoring in education at the University of Colorado who plans to teach in diverse schools.
Currently Annett’s spark is fixated on expanding the reach and vision of the NAACP Boulder County Branch.