“Ain’t no friends here” the words of Dr Simms who taught African American and Mexican American history at North Park University where Austin Channing Brown studied for her BA. Dr Simms was only her second black teacher and this one sentence forms the basis for “I’m still here”.
Austin is saying nothing different to any of her black female predecessors who have exhaustedly spoken about this white world they are forced to conform to. “Black Dignity in a world made for Whiteness”. But they are not being heard and they are not being listened to and learned from.
Once I’d finished reading I wanted to post it through the letterbox of each of the houses on our street, to everyone in my town. As a majorly predominantly white town, I can guarantee you that most people will shriek they aren’t racist. They aren’t using the n word, they aren’t telling black people to go home. I can also guarantee that they are in some form or another racist. I hold my hands up. I saw myself in Austin’s stories of being oppressed. So now I/we have to do something to ensure it doesn’t happen again. That’s not by placing our white guilt on our black comrades, its about holding ourselves accountable and making sure they are heard.
Many of the things Austin wrote about are attributable to white women but there’s absolutely no doubt that when they happen to black women it’s worse. Because not only is the issue about their gender it’s about the colour of their skin too. White women don’t have to deal with that. So we need to help, we need to understand now. Share our platform, in fact hand it over to black women.
I don’t even know if I’m making sense so please go get a copy of “I’m still here” and see what you can do.
Thank you to @viragopress for the review copy. Sorry I didn’t get this out on publication day, I was trying to process what I was reading with the respect it deserved.