White Broads: Read This Now

Brooke Dilling | @brookefrances

Broads. Like many of you, I’ve been struggling with the state of our nation. I’ve been spending a lot of time wondering (and worrying) how we got from our 44th president and first African American president, one who frequently expressed empathy for all citizens, to our 45th president, a white man who frequently expresses insensitivity to many citizens.

The pride I had felt in the presidency and in our country is replaced with horror at overt racist behavior.

If you, like me, are looking for ways to make sense of our current social and political climate, and come to terms with the racism we all engage in and uphold, then I have a book for you.

Please get yourself to your closest independent bookstore or local library and pick up a copy of Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, by Michael Eric Dyson.

I’m going to give it to you straight: this isn’t a fun, light-hearted beach read. This book is a gut punch. A book with which you’ll need to wrestle. A book requiring you to contemplate what the words “race” and “privilege” mean in your life. This read isn’t going to be easy. But I do believe it is worthwhile.

Dyson’s latest book is a pointed and emotional plea for change in race relations in our country. He covers topics such as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and subsequent election, Colin Kapernick’s experience being “black-balled” from the NFL, black-on-black violence, prisons and the black community, and police brutality toward black people.

But mainly, Dyson takes aim at white privilege and white America’s responsibility for our white supremacist past. None of us white people are off the hook. It is our responsibility to explore and unpack white privilege and systemic racism, and to participate in its unraveling.

The reason ‘Black Lives Matter’ needs to be shouted is because American history ignored black history, didn’t tell black stories. The founding documents of American society didn’t include black life. When black folk say ‘Black Lives Matter’ they are in search of simple recognition. That they are decent human beings, that they aren’t likely to commit crimes, that they’re reasonably smart. That they’re no more evil than the next person, that they’re willing to work hard to get ahead, that they love their kids and want them to do better than they did. That they are loving and kind and compassionate. And that they should be treated with the same respect that the average, nondescript, unexceptional, white male routinely receives without fanfare or the expectation of gratitude in return.
— Excerpt from Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

Dyson’s writing calls for an empathetic understanding of the black experience--a realization we all want the same thing for ourselves and our families. Safety, the ability for our children to go to good schools and get a great education, and the freedom for our kid to be kids, to make mistakes and live to tell about it.

At times, as I was reading this book, I felt dizzy in response to its hard-hitting revelations. Dyson even address reparations--yes, reparations for a past steeped in slavery and oppression of black people. He suggests ways each of us may be able make reparations for a past that continues to benefit us. Perhaps we start a college scholarship fund for African Americans in our community. Or perhaps we put money aside for books and activities for African American children in our schools.

Broads--all broads, but especially white broads--we can do better and we need to do better. The hard truth is this: when we become aware of our privilege, but do nothing to change it, our level of complicity rises. We are the oppressors. Until we see our privilege, confront it, and work to change it, we will continue to serve in this role.