a song for allies

Dear friends, family, and allies,

This morning, I woke up startled by a tune in my head that I haven’t heard since my Santa Clara elementary school’s morning sing-alongs: 

We shall overcome 

We shall overcome

We shall overcome, some day

Oh, deep in my heart

I do believe, that

We shall overcome, some day... 

My kid brain couldn’t have registered what this song was about, but this morning, I didn’t need Google to tell me what these words of resistance meant.

The past 12 days have been some of the slowest on earth: Time seemed to stop when George Floyd was murdered in cold blood on May 25, and it has crept by since.

This slowing down of time, at least, is a good thing: It seems that white and non-BIPOCs are pausing to do real work to dismantle racist systems that were built on oppression and that far from ended with the last civil rights movement. Today, with a new wave of people willing to risk their individual comfort to stand for the rights of Black Americans, some activists are calling this is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for real progress.

As writer Leslie Dwight says, what if 2020 isn’t the year to “cancel” but a year “so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw -- that if finally forces us to grow?” 

I am fortunate to have had frank conversations with people of all backgrounds on issues of race, privilege, and oppression during my time at UCLA in the Intergroup Dialogue Program, but I am well-aware that the work must be ongoing and that I have failed to do enough. 

In addition to continuous self-education and the education of our immediate family and communities, here is what we can advocate for in this moment: 

  1. Demilitarizing the police.

  2. Abolishing qualified immunity.

  3. Demanding that the officers who killed Breonna Taylor are charged.

I suggest this ally resource guide or this living document which contains a wide swath of information including immediate action steps, literature, classroom materials, parenting guides, podcasts, and places to donate.

There is so much more to be done, from reforming education, housing, to criminal justice--- but please, don’t succumb to information paralysis. Let "some day" be today. Avni

Originally written on June 6, 2020