Today, I Must Digress

Many of you have told me that you read and enjoy this blog because it’s a pleasant distraction from all that’s going on in the world at the moment. I appreciate and respect that, and have done my best to help keep you uplifted and entertained. And I will continue to do so.

Black Lives Matter protestors in Los Angeles.

But today, it feels utterly negligent to not acknowledge and speak out about what’s been happening in my country. The deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Abery, the harassment of Christian Cooper in Central Park have left me feeling wrecked and outraged, but sadly not surprised. Because this has been going on forever. Racism has always been with us. It’s just more out in the open now.

This column by LZ Granderson echos much of what I’ve heard and read from black people for the last few decades.

We tend to turn away from what’s uncomfortable to confront, or conversely we want to jump in and DO something. To fix it. To heal the wounds. But healing won’t happen without justice. That old wound will just fester and keep re-opening.

So what can we do? Listen, listen, listen to the voices of those impacted by racism. Work for justice. Vote, for sure, and work to ensure that everyone’s voting rights are being protected. Lobby your elected representatives, including the local ones. This list has lots of good ideas.

And if you’re on social media, be vigilant about what you consume, engage with, and share. There are lots of “bots,” fake accounts, and troll farms disseminating false information intended to inflame and divide us further. Social media algorithms often amplify the most extreme voices.

The more I try to write about this, the more inadequate my words feel. And it’s not about my feelings, anyway. I’ll leave it with this, and some links if you’d like to read more.

‘Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”

Angela Davis

I think that’s the crux of it right there.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge

Trevor Noah on the protests

75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice

Understanding and Dismantling Racism: A Book List For White Readers

Thanks for reading.

Photo credit: Nam Y. Huh/AP

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  1. Alysan E Azman
    June 1, 2020 / 5:50 pm

    Thank you for speaking out!

  2. Carol
    June 1, 2020 / 6:38 pm

    Thank you, Susan. As a 62-year old black woman, I have felt racism’s sting my whole life, and I have also had wonderful opportunities and experiences. I worked and lived abroad for more than 20 years in six countries, and in each of those locations I felt more at ease than I have felt here in the USA. I would like to add the following link, though laced with a few expletives, that I believe is worthwhile.

  3. Rondi
    June 1, 2020 / 6:52 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote about this. I agree with a commenter above who remembers the unrest of the 60’s. I thought it would be better by now also. To encourage us to speak out and actually be anti-racist is inspiring. Racism is taught. It is passed along from others. Sad and terrifying. I do not think it matters what your income level is. If you are white you must speak up.

  4. Kay
    June 1, 2020 / 7:36 pm

    Hi Susan – long time reader- very long (the days of the Thoughtful Dresser, I believe).

    As a black woman from Canada, this message is very well received. Thanks for amplifying and the links as well.

  5. Nancy
    June 1, 2020 / 7:44 pm

    Thank you Susan, for your heart, your words and your links.

  6. MaureenC
    June 2, 2020 / 1:10 am

    Thank you for not pretending that this isn’t happening. We have nothing to be complacent about in the UK and our black and ethnic minority citizens are victims of hate crimes and police violence. I can only voice my solidarity with those people brave enough to protest and my condolences to the families of the victims.

    June 2, 2020 / 2:06 am

    Thank you Susan

  8. SuD
    June 2, 2020 / 5:47 am

    Thank you for not ignoring this issue. Many other bloggers seem to be existing in a bubble during these trying times whether it be COVID-19 or injustice, and their disconnect has caused me to disconnect from their blogs.

  9. Lagatta de Montréal
    June 2, 2020 / 6:03 am

    Susan and others, here is a Black woman on horseback, in Oakland. A powerful symbol, as “a man” (almost always white or at most a bit métis/mestizo in countries where the majority is of colour) on horseback is a symbol of a certain type of authoritarian, and at times dictatorial power)

    Obviously the majority of African-American and other Black women don’t have access to this beautiful horse, but the symbolism is lovely.

    • Rondi
      June 2, 2020 / 7:36 am

      This is awesome, Lagatta.

  10. Berenice Wolpin
    June 2, 2020 / 7:35 am

    Thank you, Susan, for acknowledging this. Although many of us come here as a respite from the horrors of the world, there is a point at which our silence IS complicity.

  11. Kathy
    June 2, 2020 / 8:16 am

    Thank you Susan. We need to stand together again at racism, bigotry and brutality!

  12. Anne
    June 2, 2020 / 8:38 am

    Susan, I applaud you for not remaining silent on this issue. Reading and listening to the articles etc that you shared helped me, a white British woman, understand the situation in the US and I am appalled.
    Thank you.

  13. Juti
    June 2, 2020 / 8:47 am

    Thank you.

  14. Ruth
    June 2, 2020 / 11:00 am

    Thank you for your words and your reading list. Thank you for using your voice in this space and in this time to speak out about injustices that are all around us.

  15. Florence
    June 2, 2020 / 11:45 am

    Thank you Susan,
    While it’s easy to want to distract ourselves from the harsh realities of this time in history sometimes we have to stand in it and stand for something.
    I’ve followed your blog for about 3 years now. I’ve loved your style and your desire keep growing, and learning, and allowing the years to make you all the more beautiful.
    I’ve been a Francophile since I was 15 so of course I was attracted to your blog!
    I’m 59. I’m a proud mom of 5 young adults. My youngest son has Autism. I’ve been in a mixed race marriage for 31 years, my husband is an awesome devoted, hard working man.
    I just wanted to say how thankful I am that you took time to stand in it and stand for what’s important.
    More than a fan 🙂

  16. June 2, 2020 / 12:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and writing so eloquently about this huge issue. As a white woman living in an almost entirely white community, it’s hard for me to imagine the fear and everyday discrimination people of color face. I think you are right in saying, as long as we just passively stand by, it’s taken as exceptance. When in many cases, it’s just that we don’t know what to do. Speaking out is the least that can be done, even though it doesn’t seem like much. It’s sad. Its unfair. It’s outrageous that anyone is treated differently because of their skin color.

  17. Jannie
    June 2, 2020 / 3:03 pm

    Thank you and god bless everyone. I’m 70 years old and am so tired of all of the hatred and evil. Let’s pray and be kind.

  18. Jeanette
    June 2, 2020 / 4:33 pm

    As a Canadian/US dual citizen of colour, my heart breaks for George Floyd & his family and others killed. But my heart also hurts for how peaceful protests that could have brought change, healing & reconciliation to so many communities, were so quickly coopted by fringe extremist, to become vicious mobs looting, pillaging, burning. Any kind of opening of the mind, change, healing, has gone out the window. I’ve family whose businesses have been affected, and they are very angry.

    So my heart hurts but still, I do have hope …

    • Susan Blakey
      June 2, 2020 / 6:21 pm

      I’m encouraged to see that so many of the bigger protests today seem to have stayed peaceful.

  19. Jan
    June 2, 2020 / 7:32 pm

    Thank you for being a bright light .

  20. Jan W
    June 2, 2020 / 7:49 pm

    An important concept to remember is only those in power can truly make the dramatic changes that are required. Therefore, white people have a responsibility to educate themselves about white supremacy and recognize their own white privilege so they can begin to understand, think and act in anti-racist ways. There are many good sources available (as Susan provided). One of my favorites is White Fragility. Together, we can make a difference!

  21. Paulette Kay
    June 2, 2020 / 8:33 pm

    So sad for America but while I agree with everything you said, Susan, it’s not from being a citizen of a country of moral strength/virtue. As Nakkiah Lui, an Australian Indigenous playwright, actor and activist said on a talk show, The Project, last night: “Over 424 Aboriginal people have lost theirs lives since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. That’s 14 people murdered a year. If a white person was murdered every month for 24 years by the same group, we’d call them terrorists. You call it Australia.”

    • Susan
      June 3, 2020 / 1:04 am

      Perhaps Nakkiah Lui needs to read the Royal Commission Report into those deaths. It is certainly a shocking number of deaths, but they were not actually murdered by the police or prison officers. Many died from disease, suicide, alcohol related injuries etc. The report did not absolve the judiciary from responsibility, but was very critical of lack of due care towards those prisoners. I am certainly not excusing the reasons for those deaths, but they were not murdered and Lui needs to be more accurate with her accusations.

      • Paulette Kay
        June 3, 2020 / 5:59 am

        I’m sure Nakkiah would have read the report Susan. As she was speaking on a talk show, I doubt semantics came into play – she was not making an accusation under law, in a courtroom. She was (and I’m assuming this) giving a voice to the many Indigenous deaths arising from presumed intent (though not one conviction of any kind for any of the deaths), lack of duty of care – as happens in our refugee camps – or manslaughter which of course is murder without intent. As you would know from having read the Royal Commission Report, Indigenous people are overrepresented in goals here. They represent 3% of the total population, yet more than 29% are in prison.

        Sydney Morning Herald newspaper of 28 November 2019 tells us that “Life trajectory outcomes for young people forced into contact with the criminal justice system are grim. They are less likely to complete their education or find employment and are more likely to die an early death.

        “It disproportionately affects Indigenous young people. Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young people aged 10 to 17 are 23 times more likely to be in detention than non-Indigenous young people, jumping to 38 times in some states. In the Northern Territory, at least 94 per cent of detainees in juvenile detention are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. At times, this statistic has been 100 per cent.”

        I understand there is a similar over-representation of Black Americans in US prison. Not a statistic to be happy about in either country.

        • Susan
          June 3, 2020 / 6:29 am

          But why even compare Indigenous Australian incarceration rates, deaths in custody etc with African Americans? A more accurate analogy would be with Native Americans who, like Australian Aboriginals were displaced by European settlers. When Nakkiah spoke of 14 ‘murders’ a year, the language is inaccurate (and accusatory) as every death either in a remand centre or jail is termed ‘death in custody’, even though the majority of those deaths were men aged over 55 years and most died from some form of disease, e.g. cancer. Every death in custody is a coroner’s case and the findings are online. None of my comments are in any way justification of the terrible acts committed towards our Indigenous Australians. My family fostered a little Aboriginal boy for many years, so I know first hand the ugly racial barbs and prejudice he endured.

      • Paulette Kay
        June 3, 2020 / 6:00 am

        Tried to respond Susan but was not permitted to.

  22. Judy
    June 2, 2020 / 9:53 pm

    Jesus Christ is the answer for our sin sick society. As the Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”
    We all need a new heart to love God and our neighbor as ourself.

  23. Marcy
    June 2, 2020 / 10:18 pm

    Many thanks for posting this, Susan.

  24. Christie L Traasdahl
    June 3, 2020 / 1:32 pm

    Dear Susan, I want you to know that I absolutely love your posts. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on so many things including this subject so eloquently. I hope it is all right if I share mine. I have immediate family members and friends who are first responders in fire fighting and police. Some who stood in behalf of NY firefighters at the funerals of their fallen comrades, so as to allow them to continue searching for more people in the debris of 911. They have gone to Florida to help rebuild after hurricane disasters. Not because they had to-they wanted to help. They agree with all of us that what that police officer(s) in Minneapolis did to George Floyd was reprehensible. He is not a representative of the majority of first responders in the U.S. There are bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad teachers, bad CEO’s, bad politicians, even bad members of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, etc. This does not mean all of them are bad. My sympathies go out to everyone who have injured or lost loved ones during this difficult time. I am from Las Vegas and so am very sad for the young police officer shot in the back of the head. So many people have lost their livelihoods to thugs simply because nobody stopped them. They were not protesters and I would bet that many of them could not even tell you who the person was that died. It is ridiculous and horrifying. There is no color-just humans. We should stand shoulder to shoulder with a gun next to a person who wants/needs to protect what they worked so hard for all their lives. Or heaven forbid needs to defend their neighborhood or home if this gets worse. We should embrace the law to be applied to all fairly and justly for crimes committed. Not set up a guillotine like what was done in Fergeson. That is a chilling reminder of the French Revolution in Paris France. I have been there and have seen the spot where that awful history occurred. We don’t want anarchy as some seem to suggest by abolishing the police. Peace begins with each one of us- none of us is born with the poison of racism, as some would suggest. I believe we should love others as ourselves. Spoken by me-who was beat up by a group of teenagers when I was in grade school. Yes, we were of different races. I love this country and its freedoms in spite of some of its flaws. So many want to come here and experience those freedoms to make of their lives what they will. Just to get the chance. I want to see this amazing country succeed for another 200 + years. We need to stand for truth and right. Protest peacefully. That is our right. Tearing down our country is not. Thanks again for allowing me to speak here in this forum.

    • Donetta Jackson
      June 5, 2020 / 10:33 am

      Ms Traasdahl, I want to thank you for giving me the courage to speak.

      My name is Donetta Jackson, and while I am touched by the well-meaning concern of men and women like you ladies here, I would like to state loudly and clearly that I am not a victim.

      I do not believe in any way, shape or form that my people can only succeed if white people defer to us, if white people step aside, as if white people have to “let us” do anything. I find it extremely patronizing, even though I do recognize that it it well-intentioned.

      It is a slap in the face to our enslaved ancestors, our grandparents who were lynched based on the lies of whites, who could not eat in white restaurants, who had dogs set loose on them, whose right to vote was denied, to say that racism is more prevalent than ever.

      I never had to explain to my seven children how to behave if they were pulled over by white police officers; I taught them to be respectful to everyone, at all times. Neither did I lose my ever loving mind when they were pulled over while driving in white neighborhoods, which did happen occasionally. My daughter had a close friend in Druid Hills (Atlanta area) at a time when black folks had no presence there. I was pulled over once when I went to pick her up, as were my husband and her older brothers. It was obvious we didn’t live there, and I understood the officers were looking out for the neighborhood. This was during a time when there were plenty of racist police officers, and yet none of us were ever intimidated or fearful by the behavior of the officers who pulled us over. ( The officer who pulled me over definitely assumed I worked in one of the houses, though, and apologized to me afterwards.)

      The worst harassment my children went through was at school, constantly bullied for “acting white” because they studied, spoke grammatically correct English, and dressed in a way I felt was appropriate (I didn’t allow my sons to wear their pants sagging half way down their backsides, and my daughters were dressed like little girls, not streetwalkers). By far the worst struggle I had as a black woman in America was trying to get my children educated in a black school system that couldn’t control violence in a damn elementary school. My resentment was not towards white people; my resentment was, and remains, black parents who let their children run wild, who fill them with rage against white people, who make them believe that they can’t succeed because of white people.

      My husband’s cousin David Dorn was killed and it was broadcasted on Facebook Live, trying to help stop a neighborhood business from being looted in St. Louis. David Patrick Underwood was shot on duty in Oakland. THEIR LIVES MATTERED.

      I have relatives picking through remnants of what were once thriving businesses, now destroyed by savages ( of all colors) rioting throughout this country.

      There is no excuse for this. The people who are doing this are not trying to help black folks, they are trying to destroy the country, and are manipulating black people to do so. Black people will suffer for this in far greater numbers that whites. I am appalled at the amount of people who sympathize with this behavior. I support peaceful protests, but I do not understand why mayors and governors are allowing the destruction of people’s property, excusing it , as if they believe black people can’t control themselves when something horrible happens. Would any of you ladies excuse your children acting like this? But somehow it must be tolerated, applauded even, because something horrible happened to a black person? Do you not see how insulting this is?

      I know my opinion is in the minority here, and I appreciate being allowed to express it. Susan, I understand if you choose not to publish it. I want to thank you for introducing me to Brahmain bags, Peter Green shoes, and Frenche Kande.

      • Christie L Traasdahl
        June 5, 2020 / 7:59 pm

        Ms. Jackson, thank you so much for your post. Thank you for sharing your wonderful heartfelt sentiments and sharing your perspective. I agree with you and say well done, well spoken. I am truly sorry about your husband’s cousin who was killed, as well as others. My sympathies are with your family and others who mourn their lost loved ones. You alluded to people who are creating the unrest are trying to destroy the country. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but you may be on to something. Thank you for taking the time to share what you have written. I wish more people could see what you have shared.

        Thank you Susan for letting these things be posted. You have been patient and kind. You started a wonderful discussion. It is so nice to read all your posts and to get your thoughts and perspectives on many things including this. Your posts make my world a little more soft and cozy. I have been learning many things from your many posts. Thank you! I feel like we could all be good neighbors! I guess we are in a way through this virtual connection.

  25. Rev. Patricia Wesson, MD
    June 3, 2020 / 1:44 pm

    Thank you. Thank you

  26. Linda
    June 3, 2020 / 3:03 pm


  27. Marybeth
    June 4, 2020 / 9:39 am

    Thank you…

  28. Annick
    June 4, 2020 / 1:07 pm

    Thank you for your post! I am really disappointed in many other bloggers who could have used their platform but chose not to…you are an inspiration. We do not live in bubbles and while I enjoy distractions and the general content of light lifestyle blogs, there comes a time when that platform can be used to shed light on important matters.


  29. Dianne
    June 7, 2020 / 2:31 pm

    I am so upset about the burning,rioting,stealing…this is NOT protesting…it’s criminal and hurting many people,and helping no one…sadly this is no longer about racist,but violence..NOTHING will be solved this way

    • Susan Blakey
      June 7, 2020 / 2:36 pm

      Fortunately the great majority of recent protests have remained peaceful.

    • Jan W
      June 8, 2020 / 4:02 pm

      I am so upset about the death of George Floyd and the many other African Americans who have been killed, hurt and harrassed by police for decades. I am so upset about the systemic racism in many American institutions, about the incarceration rates for people of color and about the income and wealth disparity between whites and people of color. And I am so upset most white Americans ignored and/or decided racism was not a relevant issue for them until they watched yet another white officer abuse a black man. Yes, I am even upset about the burning and looting…but the killing of black men by police has got to stop!

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