We’ve all heard about the incident at the Philly pool. Color of Change put out a great incident report in case you missed it. The incident is a classic whites-only racism incident, and it’s reminded me that as responsible racial justice thinkers we must always look at incidental racism as tips of icebergs.
The real iceberg moving through Philly this summer, and many other American cities, is that tons of resources for black youth are being cut ‘due to the economy’, which is to say, when the money starts running out in racist systems, you see a rise in racist budgeting.
To put it more gently, when the decisionmakers around a municipal budget - whether they are white or black or any other color - are the kind of folks who like the complexion of their own world to be white on white, you best believe the needs for the growth, engagement and safety of black kids are not going to be prioritized.
Its not as easy, and its not as fun as ‘reactivism’, but we have to stop pouring quick energy (and for some of us - ANY energy) into getting into white-only spaces. We have to look within ourselves and our communities and recognize that we are not inferior to whites, and good enough only for a place at the white table, or 60 spots at the white pool. We have to position ourselves to have our own of whatever it is we want.
To be clear - I don’t mean our own place to be exclusionary, but our own spaces to be who we are, free from the practices of a society that only works by making us believe we are a ‘minority’, or ‘inferior’.
Folks in Philly are already on this, working to ensure that all Philly residents get equal access to public resources, and specifically highlighting the racism inherent in the resource removal. Inform yourself about this work, and find out if your city is facing similar racist budgeting.
I’m at the Localize This! action camp, and literally the one thing the participants have in common is the understanding that the new world is everywhere we are, it is us who must see that it is ours. Think deeply about how you can liberate resources for your community.
As soon as I heard this story a song came to mind, with Billie’s voice on it:
“God bless the child, that’s got his own, that’s got his own.”