Updated: Jun 20, 2020
In 2018, Taylor Garron, Associate Editor at Reductress, a satirical online women’s magazine which in their words “take on the outdated perspectives and condescending tone of popular women’s media, through the eyes of the funniest women in comedy today" put out a heading and photo only article that read “Celebrate Juneteenth by Venmoing All Your Black Friends $50”
For the two years I’ve seen the article circle on social media, it’s always been shared by black women and when I, as one of those black women, have shared it, it’s always been in the same satirical spirit from which I assume it was created in so as to not be perceived as less self-sufficient. However, this Juneteenth, I have chosen to not giggle out of discomfort when I see the article across my timeline, instead, I have chosen to fiercely support this brilliant idea and here’s why.
Driving through neighborhoods the other day in Atlanta, I discovered the obvious. In every affluent neighborhood where I found black people, they were the anomaly and more so, gentrification is running rampant in the city. This reality is a testament to the income gap and the reality that majority of white people have been able to easily build generational wealth in this country due to America’s original sin of slavery. Slavery gave white families a four hundred years head start as they had their empires built because of free black labor. For those whose families came into the United States post slavery and are ready to throw the bootstraps ideology at anyone who talks about racism,I'd say, when the brutality of the slavery ended, the reconstruction era promised black people 40 acres and a mule, but those amenities were never given to them. Instead, they were given to white migrants who were able to use such opportunities to advance themselves as anyone would with such opportunities. When blacks tried to the best of their abilities to thrive in spite of the systemic terror they were subjected to, they were always still behind. This history, coupled with redlining where banks deny or make it so grueling for black people to get loans for home ownership has made it even harder for families to build any wealth that can a safety net for them and their children as they venture out on their own.
This pandemic has uncovered this truth in plain view as black hourly workers have had to have a side hustle or two which includes working part time jobs at grocery stores for a mere nine dollars and hour, driving ubers and working for various delivery services like instacart and doordash. For blacks, particularly millennials and Gen Xers who have salaried jobs or serve as executives, this means having to figure out how to pay for the great deal of student debt they've acquired for graduate degrees to be valued and competent all while white people with only college degrees serve at the same levels and make the same money as their black counterparts of more.
On the heels of the public executions of Amhard Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd , Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks this country was called out once again to wake up and pay attention to racial justice or prepare for a rude awakening. This movement has consequently seen a surge in white people joining the public cry that Black lives matter. I have admittedly had a hard time with this sudden rise of support only because some of these new supporters were the once on the sidelines critiquing the movement and its tactics, declaring they were not racist because they had one black friend or could not decry white supremacy publicly but could post pictures of white and black children or adults holding hands as their support statements. Thus, to see how far your loyalty to this movement goes, in spirit of Taylor Garron’s 2018 post and the much larger conversation about reparations, not worrying about what they do with it, I challenge white people who say they are for black lives to broaden the dimensions of their advocacy by sending their black friends’ money.
Recognizing most of us are part of the 99 percent, we are not talking big dollars unless you have it, but sending your black friends money says, "I see you. Treat yourself. Take a break. I am with you." Sending your black friends money will not erase 400 years of setbacks but it shows you’re ready to endure the long journey to racial justice. Sending your black friends money doesn’t mean you have it all nor does it deny your personal setbacks but it means you understand that your white skin gives you access and creates a shield for you in ways that black skin does not. Though they are not compelled to, sending your black friends money is a way to thank them for teaching you about racism by sharing their stories as indicated by screenshots I have posted from a white acquaintances. While Juneteenth and the ways its celebrated is uniquely black, white people are called to celebrate it today and everyday by making sure their solidarity is multifaceted and lifelong.