By the time that we got to Birmingham, Alabama we had already been on the road for 4 months, exploring the US in an RV full-time. We had traveled through 25 states and been to so many museums, national parks, and tourist attractions. In Birmingham we were excited to visit the Civil Rights museum. As the parent to a biracial child – and a white woman who over the past few years has really come to understand my privilege and develop a strong desire to become a stronger ally – and raise my children with as few prejudices as possible – I was excited and eager to visit the Civil Rights museum.
My first disappointing realization was that in the 4 months and 25 states since we’ve been on the road – we’d only visited destinations that were honoring white people (Lincoln’s boyhood home, Eleanor Roosevelts Val-Kill, The Wright Brothers National Monument, etc.). The only time we encountered Black History was in places that were focused on more general topics – like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which did have an exhibit on the Negro League.
This is not something I intentionally planned… but I also clearly had not intentionally planned diversity into the trip.
A quick google search has proven what I knew all along – it’s not that museums and monuments focused on Black history don’t exist… I just didn’t know enough about Black history to LOOK for them, and the websites I was using to plan my trip, clearly did not help me find them.
This will not be the last time you hear about Birmingham and the Civil Rights Museum – as a matter of fact, we’re going to dive into a related topic in the next episode, but for now, I really want to introduce you to this podcast, why I created it, and how you can use it.
Within the past month, the shelter-in-place recommendations from the covid19 pandemic began to be lifted and as people started resuming normal activity we almost immediately began to see instances of police brutality and racism hitting social media and news sources.
These instances of racism and police brutality are not happening any more often than they have been in the past – but because of the mobile technology we all have at our fingertips – they’re getting recorded and shared more often – and this is sparking the desire for many white people, who maybe did not realize how serious of an issue it was, to be a part of the solution.
This is where privilege comes into play. Our country was founded by white people and designed for white people from Day 1. Over time, people have slowly started to realize that the way Black people were being treated was not okay, and some progress has been made – but we can clearly see now, that unlike what we were taught to believe in school, the civil rights movement of the 60s did not eliminate racism. There is still a lot of work to be done.
If you’re still listening to this episode – I am glad, that means you get it and you’re in the right place!
As a white person who has found themselves in the midst of another civil rights movement, it’s important to know what we should – and should not – be doing.
It’s also important that we don’t rely on our Black friends to tell us what we should – or should not – be doing.
Part of recognizing what is happening right now, is acknowledging that Black people have been fighting all their lives – and we just woke up to the truth of their experiences. We should not be adding another burden onto a Black person to teach us what we should already know. We can do that work ourselves. And we don’t have to do it alone. THAT is where this podcast comes into play.
I had not learned about the Tulsa Massacre and Black Wall Street until this year. 2020. A full 99 years after it happened. I got As in high school and graduated a semester early on the Dean’s list from college… yet, I never learned about this huge pivotal moment in Black history – and let’s be real here, it’s AMERICAN history. And we all should know about it.
The fact that these huge gaps exist – is simply not okay. So I spent a good amount of time researching and learning about what happened in Tulsa, and dissecting what that really meant and how that plays into the parts of American history I do know. But, why am I doing this alone?
I have a voice and a platform and a following. And I am going to use it. Each episode of this podcast I will introduce a new topic. In the next few episodes we’ll talk about the Tulsa Massacre, my family’s visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights museum, Aunt Jemima pancake syrup, and other events, people and stories that relate to Black History and the Black experience in America. I will focus on amplifying Black voices – because mine is not the voice that ultimately needs to be heard, but I do hope that I can use my voice to prepare others to listen to the Black leaders that need to be heard.
I will introduce the topic, share some information, and in the show notes I will provide links, videos, and resources for you to continue to learn more. We have a Facebook Group, which will serve as a safe-space to discuss these (and other) race-related issues. This Group is ONLY for people who are open-minded, willing to learn, and those willing to share information and questions without anger or insults.
It’s true that knowledge alone will not eliminate the systemic racism faced in our country… but it will help us to become more knowledgeable on issues related to the Black experience so that we can show up as an ally when we are needed.
I sincerely hope you stick along for the long haul as we work our way through finally learning Black history together.