“Not being racist is not enough. We have to actively be anti-racist. Black lives matter.”
This mantra hits me hard because for most of my life, I’ve taken it for granted that I have been part of and surrounded by incredibly open-minded and accepting communities and people who were not (for the most part) outwardly or intentionally racist. But the wake–up call of the last few weeks has made it undeniable: It’s not enough just to feel that we’re not racist; we must act.
While my friends and neighbors have gone out to march, I have sat back with small kids at home, feeling a bit guilty. How can I make change? How can I move myself from a place of saying “I’m not racist” to a place where I am actively being anti–racist?
I’m the director of a Jewish arts organization because I believe that art is essential in our world. Through art, we learn and appreciate the stories, artists and cultures that are different from our own. And while I know that art alone won’t eradicate racism, the cultural learning that comes through art is integral in building a more understanding and accepting world. After all, you can’t understand your own place in something that you just don’t understand.
So, whether you are leading rallies, thinking about whether or not you should be posting links on Facebook, or anywhere in between, here are some beautiful ways to strengthen your own anti-racist voice.
Celebrate Juneteenth at the MFA on Friday, June 19, at 4 p.m.
The music and vibrant fashion shows have always been my favorite parts of Juneteenth at the MFA Boston. While COVID-19 won’t allow us to be together this year, the array of online programs will allow us to come together to celebrate the end of slavery, and to have an active reminder of history through stories and conversations with an array of local black artists. To me, going to this Juneteenth celebration feels a bit like a Passover seder—intended to help us all remember and learn through culture and art. So go, learn and enjoy.
There are a few black-owned Boston-area restaurant lists going around online. COVID-19 has decimated the restaurant industry, so this is doubly important right now.
Here are a few of my personal favorites:
- The Blue Nile: This is my go-to for some solid injera, and it’s especially great when you want something veggie-heavy. And the owners couldn’t be nicer!
- Petsi Pies: I first loved them years ago because of their Pi Day giveaway. Renee’s pies all taste homemade, and they’ve participated in a number of JArts events.
- Ali’s Roti Restaurant: I have spent years eyeing this place and finally went last week. If you haven’t tried it, roti is reminiscent of a hybrid between Indian naan and Israeli laffa bread, and the curries are super comforting and delicious.
Read and share
Write about it
GrubStreet, a national organization that teaches writing, has a class about addressing racial identities. These conversations are difficult for all of us, and this is a space to share with others who are also processing through writing. I love that the end result can be a beautiful and sharable piece of artistic advocacy.
Learn through dance
African dances have played a crucial role in the evolution of so many dance styles. Check out “Dance of the African Diaspora“ to learn more. It’s a fascinating look at the lives of some important African dancers and choreographers.
Shop at black-owned businesses
I’ve been feeling a bit restless to shop the last few weeks with stores being closed. This list of 200-plus black-owned crafts/home goods is pretty fantastic and gives me the pleasure of shopping while supporting black-owned and small businesses.
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