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A letter of solidarity

Lynae Zebest

Hi friends,

I’m writing to you today to share my grief and anger at the police murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless other Black Americans - not just in the last few weeks, but since the founding of the organized police institution in America. I am mourning, as well, the police murders of other racial and ethnic minorities, other unarmed people, the homeless, the mentally ill, my fellow LGBT & queer folk, and all the desperate, innocent and afraid - but now is a time to bring down the spotlight on our Black neighbors, family, friends & community - because no matter how many times our society tells us otherwise, Black lives matter.

Thank you to all of you who are doing your part to stand up against white supremacy, police violence, and racially-motivated aggression. Thank you to all of you who are risking your health to take to the streets in protest, to stand up for what is right.

I spent much of my childhood living on island nations in the Caribbean, with Black and/or Indigenous majorities, ruled by American tourism. My friends, caretakers and mentors were locals who worked in hospitality or service. And I saw, every day, the way white American tourists talked down to them. The ways that in countries where they were a majority, people of color were still often marginalized, passed over for promotions by American and international corporations, when they had better qualifications than the lighter-skinned person who was hired. The way they were referred to as “natives.” The way they were assumed to be stupid, or lazy - the way their lives, often steeped in poverty, were deemed to be that way as a result of their lack of merit. The way their bodies were objectified and commodified. Because Americans brought the money, and most American tourists are white, and their economies were dependent on them.

Because of these early experiences, as a white person, I am acutely aware of the racial and cultural inequities in American society, and I’ve done my (imperfect) best to try to mitigate my own contributions to this pervasive system. And, though it pains me to speak of it, multiple loved ones have been victims of police violence. As a result, I know on a deep level that the events of recent weeks aren’t anything new - they are the status quo that many people are only now acknowledging or confronting.

Let’s work together to end the murder of Black people, violence by police, and the structural, race-based inequality that has infused our country since the very beginning. Whether that’s educating ourselves & our children, supporting our communities of color, feeding or housing protestors, offering our services to POC and allies in need, donating to racial justice organizations, voting for change in our elections or with our wallets, or marching in solidarity - there is a part for all Americans to play in tearing down the status quo and replacing it with a better future.

Thank you so much for reading,

Lynae Zebest

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