Dangerous Compassions

celebrate Blackness

Getting ready for Black History Month, I wanted to share with you this list of ideas for ways to celebrate every day of Black History month and beyond.  I like the idea of making a plan of meaningful ways to celebrate Blackness and Black people, and have actual actions rather than vague intentions or “yeah yeah I know that already” educational stuff.

This list is based on a list from Our Culture in Beautiful out of Connecticut.  Their facebook is here.

to do
1. Watch a Black film with all Black actors.
2. Become a member of NAACP or Urban league.
3. Write an article about a Black senior.
4. Donate to a Black business in your town.
5. Trace your family history.
6. Spend time or interview a Black veteran in your community.
7. Attend a Black church service.
8. Dine at a Black owned restaurant.
9. Purchase Black art.
10. Prepare and cook a soul food meal.
11. Become a mentor to a Black student.
12. Listen to Black music for one day all day.
13. Tune into one Black radio station.
14. Watch black history documentary.
15. Gift a card to Black employees.
16. Pay forward grocery bill for a Black family.
17. Subscribe to Black newsletter or magazine.
18. Host a social networking event for Black entrepreneurs.
19. Create a poster of Black scientists.
20. Write a letter to a Black friend or neighbor.
21. Send a positive card to Black residents in nursing homes.
22. Attend a Black webinar or event.
23. Hire a Black plumber, painter, electrician, landscaper, realtor, or insurance agent for the year.
24. Wear jewelry made by a Black person.
25. Do something nice for a homeless Black person.
26. Volunteer at a Black organization for six months.
27. Give to a charity that supports sickle cell patients.
28. Learn about Africa traditions and tribes.
29. Pray for all generations of people who were and are oppressed and punished because of their skin tone.
30. Create a Black Lives Matter sign and make it visible for one day or six months.
31. Read a bedtime story to your family about Black heroes.
32. Research two Black artists who are millionaires.
33. Wear a t-shirt reflecting positive Black statements.
34. Have a family discussion about Black Wall Street.
35. Speak with civil leadership about cultural differences and solidarity.
36. Post positive pictures of Black leaders on social media.
37. Apologize to a Black person for not listening or dismissing their opinions.
38. Send or deliver flowers to residents at a shelter.
39. Create a crossword puzzle with children about Black teachers, engineers, and pilots.
40. Watch BET or TV One cable channel for one day or six months.
Thank you for however you celebrate Blackness, Black people, your neighborhood, your loved ones, heal trauma, and show up.
home neighborhood
The neighborhood Ming and I live in is a Black neighborhood.  Sometimes I ponder my role and responsibilities, living here.
The address we live is unusual, three houses–the only little compound around.  Our neighborhood has tons of churches, a couple apartment complexes, a couple halfway houses.  Some modest houses inhabited and boarded-up-windows abandoned.  Vacant lots with broken glass.  A community garden run by the city, and Zion community garden run by a church.  A couple parks.
I love this neighborhood, as it feels like a real place.  Knowing it is my joy.  It may be my favorite place I ever lived.  There’s something organic about it.  It feels like it formed from human needs, not a company’s capitalism plan.
The people are friendly and nice.  Riding my trike through the neighborhood with Ming on his bike, or taking a walk, I enjoy being here.  People say hello.  Yeah, it’s probably the best neighborhood I’ve ever lived in.
Supposedly the crime rate is high, there are bullet shells on the ground, there’s broken glass and trash, including some trash piles that form in vacant lots.  But I like the trash piles.  I would like to be a trash scholar.  Yep, I’d like a Master’s degree in trash.
this unique place
I had a conversation with Ming about this post I’m writing.  I told him how I’m going to post this list of things to do for Black history month.
What is my responsibility, as a white woman living in a Black neighborhood?  I told Ming how the Black homeowners here might not agree with the Black Lives Matter attitudes and sentiments.  I told Ming that BLM protesters can be seen as anarchist rabblerousers and troublemakers.
“BLM isn’t anarchist,” Ming said.  “It’s got hierarchies.”
“Ok, well, that’s good to know.  But I’m talking more about how it’s perceived.”
I have a BLM shirt.  But I did not want to wear it in my neighborhood because I know the local people here who have houses–the system worked for them at least a little, and they might not want to lose the small foothold they have by calling for huge change.
I remember some people who live here in Vegas Heights complaining online about a local Black activist minister who wanted to hold a protest in our neighborhood at Doolittle Park / Kianga Isoke Palacio Park.  They said that minister doesn’t live in this neighborhood and was causing unwanted trouble.  Some online argument ensued.
It’s hard to tell if those two naysayers I read online were representative of this neighborhood or were outliers.  Maybe they were the slightly conservative people who spoke up but don’t represent the neighborhood well.
Loving our neighborhood, city, state, world is a good responsibility I’m happy to admit I have.  I learn about Blackness, racism, Las Vegas, who I am, what I’m good at.  What makes most sense for me to prioritize doing, considering my skills and identities.
I read the beginning of My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem with a friend, learning about racialized trauma.  I’m still mulling over ideas I was given, by that book, and taking a free online course from Menakem.
Feels good to be curious and live in this sacred place, seeing what I give and take, love, notice, pass through, and dwell in.  Thank you to everyone who’s patient with me as I grow and change.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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