Waking up to the Sunrise Movement

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By Adam Eichen

There is no Planet B

This article appeared originally in The Progressive.

“You can love two children at once,” a colleague once told me. He meant that advocates for a single issue can integrate other reform efforts into their agenda without being subsumed—and are often more powerful for it.

In my work promoting democracy reform I’ve repeated this message hundreds of times across the country, advocating for automatic and same-day voter registration, public financing of elections, and independent redistricting commissions—all measures that bulwark the power of the people against that of big money and unlock the possibility of progressive change.

Recently, though, the Sunrise Movement forced me to confront the uncomfortable truth that, as an activist, I was failing to live up to the “love two children at once” bargain. I had been so committed to improving democratic process that I neglected the growing climate justice movement. I battled climate change via a bank shot, never directly, in part because the oncoming catastrophes—droughts, floods, wildfires, unlivable habitats, not-so-natural disasters, mass species extinctions, and millions of climate refugees—engulfed me in existential despair.

But at the Sunrise Movement’s Road to a Green New Deal Tour in Boston on April 16, I realized my mistake.

Along with 1,400 other people I learned not only of the horrors to expect should the United States fail to immediately decarbonize its economy, but also how collective action could make a real difference, now.

After all, it wasn’t that long ago that humanity, tackling the threat posed by a depleted ozone layer, banned many chlorofluorocarbons. And it worked.

Confronting climate change is a truly different, much larger and more complex problem than the depletion of the ozone layer. Nevertheless, much like banning CFCs, there are clear steps we can take. Doing a better job managing forests, grasslands and soils, for example, could “offset as much as 21 percent of the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions,” according to a Science Advances study. And even without any legislation, governors have broad power over emissions, and can act via executive order if pressured.

~~~

Collective action is already affecting the country. Climate change is now the top issue for Democratic voters and candidates are competing to release the most innovative plans to tackle the crisis—a stark contrast from 2016.

And this momentum is leading to new legislation. Just recently, New York City and Los Angeles adopted municipal Green New Deal plans. Washington state passed a law to make its electricity supply carbon-free by 2045 and another to ban fracking. New Mexico and Nevada required utilities to reach carbon-free electricity by 2045 and 2050, respectively. And though efforts in Minnesota to codify carbon-free electricity by 2050 will likely fall short due to Republicans in the state senate, the state’s largest electric utility, Xcel Energy, recently announced a plan to speed up its exit from the coal market and transition to 100% carbon-free electricity. 

Other states may soon adopt even bolder plans. New York, for instance, is currently debating “the most progressive climate-equity policy we’ve seen,” according to Heather McGhee and Robert Reich. The bill—the Climate and Community Protection Act—would transition New York’s economy to carbon-free by 2050 with climate justice oriented redistributive measures.

The Sunrise Movement is planning a mass demonstration in Detroit during a Democratic presidential candidates debate scheduled for July 30, aiming to force presidential candidates to grapple with the climate issue and galvanize further reform efforts.

Of course, isolated, regional victories will not be enough. We need bold, transformative policies on a national and global scale—the Green New Deal is a model. By joining together the climate crisis and profound redress of racial and economic inequalities, the Sunrise Movement has created a platform for such change. But these smaller victories are critical, each one a step in building an intersectional movement attending to our climate crisis and to our desperate need for democracy reform as well.

Though the world is far from on track to meet climate goals, as my colleague and Diet for a Small Planet author Frances Moore Lappé often says, “I’m neither an optimist nor pessimist. I’m a possibilist. As long as the possibility for change exists, there is more than enough reason to keep fighting for what we want.”

~~~

Fired up by the Green New Deal Tour event, I attended a Sunrise monthly Boston area meeting in April. On the fourth floor of the historic Old South Church in downtown Boston, I joined seventy-some people, overwhelmingly young—including middle and high schoolers—and brimming with optimism. Beginning with a song, organizers urged everyone to spend ten minutes getting to know others, after which we got into the nitty-gritty of organizing.

“These meetings—getting together with all these amazing people—is the highlight of my month. It keeps me going,” one young organizer told me.

On May 3, I joined middle and high school students, who, with assistance and training from Sunrise Boston, engaged in a second climate strike in front of the Massachusetts State House.

I stood with the some sixty young strikers gathered in a crowd, while speakers—ranging from state representatives to a group of fourth graders—spoke passionately about why it was time for young people to do what adults had neglected: Act. Signs demanding climate legislation were raised to the sky, cheers erupted after each speaker finished, and adults passing by in their cars watched, if for only an instant.

Soon, everyone sat down for an eleven minute moment of silence—symbolizing the number of years within which a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions must take place if warming is to be kept under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Organizers implored attendees to use this time to reflect upon the reasons we fight and to envision the brighter future for which we are striving.

At the end of the silence, those in the crowd rang bells to “sound the alarm” on the climate crisis, and a band started to play. The mood lightened. Participants started to relax, laugh, and, at least for a moment, cast off existential angst.

Oncoming climate catastrophe is, needless to say, sobering, but moments like these, full of love and hope, are a reminder that, no matter the odds, there is always reason to keep fighting, together. And in a couple days, I’ll once again make my way to the statehouse to stand with youth strikers—and will continue to do so, until transformative change is won.

 

About the Author 

Adam Eichen is the Communications Strategist at Equal Citizens and coauthor of Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want with Frances Moore Lappé. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamEichen.

The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II Calls on Graduating Students to “Get Up, Get Together, and Get

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The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber  II at Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts, May 18, 2019
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II at Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts, May 18, 2019. Photo credit: Keith Nordstrom and Nicki Pardo.

When graduating in fraught times of division and fear, it’s not always easy to look to the future. Especially when mulling over how we got here and where we go from here while planning for the next stage in your life. Thankfully, we have a beacon of hope and action to look to: cochair of the Poor People’s Campaign and MacArthur fellow Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II. On Saturday, May 18, Rev. Barber delivered a mesmerizing commencement speech at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Not a smartphone in the students’ hands lit up while he inspired the next generation to step forward in our times of moral crisis for love, justice, and truth. A true testament to the power of his words, words that all of us should heed, no matter what stage of life we are at.

Here are some selections from his speech.

***

I have come today to issue both a caution and a call. And it is that you must graduate today, but get up, get together and get involved tomorrow.

There are some that want to promote the lie that all is OK. But as Chancellor Jonathan Bennett, or Chance the Rapper, says, “Sometimes the truth don’t rhyme. Sometimes the lies get millions of views.”

And, in this moment, you have to question the Trumpalistic slogans we hear about bull markets and booming economies. Yes, that’s the message from the White House and from Wall Street. We do live in a time when some people who put their names in gold plating on new buildings like to talk big talk. They collude with lies and obstruct the truth and say everything is fine when it is not.

Many others engage in inattention violence and refuse to even look at the realities around us. And others see the problems, but just throw up their hands and say ‘nothing can be done.’

The truth is life is hard for most folks in America, and something must be done. For many of you here, you are only the first or the second generation in your family to even go to college. And no matter how you look on the outside, it was hard to get here, hard to stay here, and it’s hard out here, and in many places, it’s getting harder.

And that’s why John Legend, my friend—as we talked not too long ago—said in his latest song, ‘Preach’:

“I can’t sit and hope, I can’t just sit and pray,
that I can find a love, when all I see is pain.
I try to do the things, I say that I believe.
I can’t just preach, baby, can’t just preach, can’t just preach.
Falling to my knees, I can’t just preach.”

I must do something.

I have been traveling all over this land for the past two years organizing people for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. And I want to invite each one of you to join it, to Google it, to be a part of it.

~~~

When a president loses the election by 4 million votes but is selected president by an Electoral College that is a relic of racism and slavery, and 100 million people chose not even to vote in 2016, you must graduate today, but then get up, get together and get involved tomorrow.

When mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow, when too often shooting unarmed black people goes unpunished, when indigenous people on reservations face cruel decisions to frack and drill on their sacred land, we need you to graduate today and then get up, and get together and get involved tomorrow.

When a country of immigrants is weaponizing deportation to rip families apart and reject people, brown immigrants at our southern borders have had families snatched, and mothers and children put in cages. When just last week I visited sister Rosa Gonzalez, who in Maryland was separated from her family, she’s in sanctuary now because of the president’s policies that want to deport her, leaving her three children, one with Down Syndrome, despite the fact that she came here to get away from violence that was created in El Salvador by United States paramilitary policies. People were trying to kill her with machetes. And when you have people in office now trying to put immigration policies in place, and if they were in place when their great-grandmas tried to come here, they wouldn’t be able to get into this country, you must graduate, get up, get together and get involved tomorrow.

And when some people still feel that they have a right to hate and then discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation and who they choose to love, you must graduate today, get up, get together and get involved tomorrow.

When some say our economy is good and the unemployment is down to 3 percent, but they don’t tell you that most of those jobs are low-wage jobs and part-time jobs. When there are right now, as you sit here today, 140 million people in this country that are poor and low wealth, 43.5 percent of this nation. When there are 400 families that make an average of $97,000 an hour while we lock people up who go in the street for $15 and a union. When plus-60 million people work for less than a living wage, less than $15 and a union, and 250,000 people die every year from poverty, yes, I want you to graduate today, but I want you to get up, get together and get involved tomorrow.

When 37 million people go without health care, and people pray not to get sick because they can’t afford treatment, and when politicians try to block people from getting health care when those same politicians, when they get elected to Congress, get free health care paid for by our money. When two weeks ago the current administration had a prayer day, and on that same day, members of that administration were preying—p-r-e-y-i-n-g—and trying to roll back the policies that protect people with pre-existing conditions and protect pregnant women, you must graduate today, but you must get up, get together and get involved tomorrow.

When we see the hypocrisy of an Alabama state governor who has refused to expand health care, who is against health insurance companies having to cover pre-existing conditions and pregnant women, who is against living wages, even though thousands of people die every year from poverty, who is for sinful voter suppression laws and now says she’s signing a law because she cares about life and morality and signed a so-called ‘heartbeat’ bill to take away a woman’s right to choose, when the reality is, shamefully, she is claiming to care about a heartbeat inside the womb, but doesn’t care about heartbeats outside the womb.

When families, Mr. President, in Flint, Michigan, to . . . Louisiana, and all over this country, people can get up every morning and buy unleaded gas but can’t buy unleaded war. When a war economy drains social programs and impoverished communities here at home to destroy and pollute poor countries around the world. When a combat soldier makes less than $35,000 a year and a weapons company CEO makes $19 million a year as an average, and people are making a killing off a killing. When we are putting that 62 cents of every discretionary dollar into the war economy, but only 15 cents of every discretionary dollar into education and health care and infrastructure at home, you must graduate today, get up, get together and get involved.

~~~

When we have a false narrative that says God blesses those who are cursing the poor and defending racism and wage and senseless wars and hating Muslims and gay people and destroying the Earth and loving tax cuts and guns, this is such a lie that you must graduate today, but then get up, get together and get involved tomorrow.

We need you. America needs you. The world needs you on the front lines for love and justice and truth. Class of 2019, you are graduating during a moral crisis in America. And I must tell you the truth, but I must also say you are not the first. Truth is, it has always been young people who have stepped forward at moments of crisis in this nation’s history to offer the leadership that can push us toward a more perfect union.

***

You can read Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II’s commencement speech in full here or watch him deliver it here.

To find out about how he helped build the Moral Mondays movement, read his book The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear, written with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. To learn about his vision for intersectional organizing in the new Poor People’s Campaign, read Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing, written with the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and the Rev. Dr. Rick Lowery. And read and watch his MacArthur Foundation profile, prepared in honor of his induction in the 2018 Fellows Program.

 

About The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II 

The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II is the president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, cochair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina. A visiting professor of public theology and activism, Rev. Dr. Barber is also the author of The Third Reconstruction and Revive Us Again. Follow him on Twitter at @RevDrBarber.

Graduation Gift Guide: 2019 “Future-Ready” Edition

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Graduation

With the diploma in hand and the graduation cap thrown jubilantly into the air, the question remains: What’s the next step? Graduation heralds new beginnings and transition. But where and how to start? How should we prepare for the future when the world around us changes on a compulsory basis? In his book Don’t Knock the Hustle, S. Craig Watkins asks the same question and says we should plan to be future-ready. “What should schools be doing? Instead of preparing students to be college-ready or career-ready, schools must start producing students who are what I call ‘future-ready.’ The skills associated with future readiness are geared toward the long-term and oriented toward navigating a world marked by diversity, uncertainty, and complexity . . . a future-ready approach prepares students for the world we will build tomorrow.”

Inspired by Watkins, we put together this inexhaustive list of book recommendations from our catalog for the graduate in your life. Remember that you can always browse our website for more inspirational and future-ready titles.

For Graduates Getting Science Degrees


InferiorInferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story

Angela Saini

“If you have ever been shouted down by a male colleague who insists that science has proven women to be biologically inferior to men, here are the arguments you need to demonstrate that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.”
—Eileen Pollack, author of The Only Woman in the Room

 

 

SuperiorSuperior: The Return of Race Science
Angela Saini

“Deeply researched, masterfully written, and sorely needed, Superior is an exceptional work by one of the world’s best science writers.”
—Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life 

 

 

For Graduates Gearing Up for Activism

Daring DemocracyDaring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want
Frances Moore Lappé and Adam Eichen

“This book, perhaps better than any other, shows Americans that the democracy they want is possible.”
—Lawrence Lessig, author of Republic, Lost 

 

 

 

UnapologeticUnapologetic: A Black, Queer, Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements
Charlene A. Carruthers

“This brilliant and powerful book is a clarion call to keep alive the Black radical tradition in these reactionary times.”
—Dr. Cornell West

 

 

For Graduates Getting an Education Degree

Lift Us UpLift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out!: Voices from the Front Lines of the Educational Justice Movement
Mark R. Warren with David Goodman

“A bold and exciting book that presents the stories we never hear—powerful stories of successful grassroots organizing in schools and communities across the nation led by parents, students, educators, and allies.”
—Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union

 

 

We Want to Do More Than SurviveWe Want To Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Reform
Bettina L. Love

“This book is a treasure! With rigorous intersectional theory, careful cultural criticism, and brave personal reflection, We Want To Do More Than Survive dares us to dream and struggle toward richer and thicker forms of educational freedom.”
—Marc Lamont Hill, author of Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond 

 

For Graduates Seeking Other Future-Ready Paths

Don't Knock the HustleDon’t Knock the Hustle: Young Creatives, Tech Ingenuity, and the Making of a New Innovation Economy
S. Craig Watkins

“A compulsively readable ethnographic study of new innovation spaces that shows how young creatives—especially youth of color—are excelling at difference-making endeavors, from hip hop, coding, and game design to activism.”
—Juliet Schor, professor of sociology, Boston College

 

 

Man's Search for Meaning_tradeMan’s Search for Meaning
Viktor Frankl

“One of the great books of our time.”
—Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People 

 

 

 

 

Miracle of Mindfulness 2016The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
Thich Nhat Hanh

“Thich Nhat Hanh’s ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

 

 

How to Be Less Stupid About RaceHow to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide
Crystal M. Fleming

“For those looking for a distinctly smart, humorous, and intellectually challenging read on a much-needed complex racial conversation, How to Be Less Stupid About Race is essential reading.”
—Angela Nissel, author of The Broke Diaries and Mixed

 

 

 

White FragilityWhite Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
Robin DiAngelo

“This is a necessary book for all people invested in societal change through productive social and intimate relationships.”
—Claudia Rankine 

 

 

 

 

 

Graduation

Committing to Antiracist Love in Interracial Intimacy

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By Crystal M. Fleming

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with other members of the Royal family going to church at Sandringham on Christmas Day 2017
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with other members of the Royal family going to church at Sandringham on Christmas Day 2017. Photo credit: Mark Jones

The world couldn’t wait to find out about the name Meghan Markle and Prince Harry chose for their newborn. Archie! And the couple’s journey as an interracial family is just beginning. Take it from Crystal Fleming, who has been obsessed about the royal couple since their dating days. She wrote about them in her book How to Be Less Stupid About Race. Here’s what she had to say about the complexity of interracial relationships and the importance of working toward antiracism with an interracial partner, using her own relationship with her girlfriend as an example. Royal couple, take note as you raise your little one.

***

I’m going to let you in on a dirty secret.

Back when news first broke of Prince Harry dating biracial actress Meghan Markle, I became quietly obsessed. I knew it made no sense whatsoever to get excited about a woman of African descent marrying into the decrepit, elitist, white supremacist British royal family. I mean, Harry was the same guy who once got caught wearing a Nazi costume at a Halloween party, for God’s sake. I knew all of these things. And yet, every headline about Meghan Markle made me beam with racially problematic happiness. I’d never heard of her—or her show Suits—but I suddenly couldn’t get enough of the headlines chronicling her romance with the prince. How did they meet? What were his blonde exes saying? How did Meghan get into yoga? What did her black mother think of Harry? And OMG she’s besties with the only queen I recognize—­Serena Williams!

There was just one thing: I couldn’t publicly admit to being caught up in this madness. When I periodically updated my girlfriend about their romance, she rolled her eyes. She couldn’t care less.

“Why are you interested in these people?”

“I can’t explain it. I know it’s wrong. I’m ashamed.”

“I’m telling Twitter.”

“Nooooooooo!”

And so we laughed and joked about my covert obsession. I knew my interest was racially stupid. For all I knew, Meghan was walking into a Get Out situation. (By the way, wouldn’t that make a fire sequel? An interracial horror flick set in Buckingham Palace . . .) Every time another tidbit from Meghan and Harry’s adventures hit the Daily Mail or People, I was here for it. I felt like the GIF of Michael Jackson eating popcorn at the movie theatre—you know the one—from Thriller.

But I wouldn’t dare admit any of this to my thirty thousand followers on Twitter. What could be more problematic than getting irrationally excited about a mixed girl dating a rich white dude who got caught “playfully” wearing a swastika at a party way back when? Of course their relationship didn’t prove anything about the state of race relations in Britain or the “evolution” of his views on race. And yet I found myself quietly cheering for them—and judging myself accordingly.

~~~

Being in an interracial relationship within a racist society is always going to be a complicated affair. As sociologist Amy Steinbugler shows in her brilliant 2012 book Beyond Loving: Intimate Racework in Lesbian, Gay, and Straight Interracial Relationships, couples approach racial matters in a variety of ways. Some decide to avoid addressing racism while others attempt to confront racial oppression head-on. But the bottom line, according to Steinbugler, is that interracial couples exist in a matrix of domination. They are affected by the politics of the racial hierarchy in which we all live. This is the case whether the lovers involved want to face reality or not.

In my relationship with my girlfriend, intersectional oppression is something we talk about and deconstruct on a daily basis. She reads my Twitter rants against racial stupidity—and drafts of my scholarly manuscripts. I love the fact that she brings up white supremacy over coffee on a Saturday morning. Topics like “cultural appropriation” and “scientific racism” are literally pillow talk in our household. Sometimes we go to sleep discussing the history of eugenics or slavery, and then I wake up like “According to Chomsky . . .” We are really living this life. But there are other interracial “friendships” and relationships in which all involved sign a gentlemen’s agreement to sweep racism under the rug. In the midst of Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, and uprisings in Baltimore, I often wondered how (or, really, if) interracial couples across the nation were discussing racial trauma. All too often, interracial couples don’t even bother talking about how racism shapes their lives because they can’t do that kind of intimate work. And sometimes the white partner intentionally or unintentionally subjects their nonwhite lover to interpersonal racism or fails to protect the person from the racist behavior and comments of their white friends and family members.

Increasingly, black women and women of color are using social media and blogs to speak up about their experiences of racism and sexism within interracial relationships. In the wake of Trump’s election, a twenty-five-year-old black woman posted a Facebook video of her white (then) boyfriend saying, “What Trump should do, the second he’s elected, give all you motherfuckers tickets back [to Africa]. You don’t like it? Peace! Black Lives Matter? Go matter to fucking Ghana.” Writing in The Establishment, TaLynn Kel indicated that her white husband’s “unconscious racism nearly destroyed” their marriage. Their painful attempts to forge an antiracist path together has involved careful attention to the way they discuss race and racism.

My girlfriend and I have had to think long and hard about how to address our different perspectives on racial oppression effectively and lovingly. In the beginning, this was difficult work. It isn’t easy being vulnerable about the pain of antiblackness with someone who will never experience it, no matter how much that person loves you. Looking back, my apprehension made perfect sense. Racial vulnerability can’t be shared with just anyone at any time; it requires trustworthiness and true intimacy. But, because I didn’t know how to be vulnerable with my nonblack bae, sometimes our “conversations about race” turned into uncomfortable exchanges and, at times, gut-wrenching arguments. I had to learn how to teach her what I know about racism in a way that is loving and honors the sanctity of our relationship. And she had to learn how to listen and show support in a way that felt loving to me. When I talk about my experience of racial pain, I mostly desire her compassion, validation, and care. If I’m moved to tears reading the latest racially traumatic news or watching a film about slavery or civil rights, I want her to pass the tissues and show concern. With practice we’ve found ways to draw connections between different kinds of intersectional oppression—what we might think of as an “intersectional sensibility”—without pretending that our experiences are exactly “the same.” They aren’t.

Quite honestly, it took a skilled couples counselor to help us find ways to communicate authentically about racial oppression without hurting each other unnecessarily. And it took a great deal of commitment on both of our parts to do this intimate “racework” without running away from each other—even when we wanted to. Over time, we deepened our friendship and began building true interracial intimacy. Because we trust each other and share the same racial politics, I can bring up concerns about her responses to antiblackness, unintended racism, or the dynamics of white privilege, and she can bring up concerns about how I express my views or talk about how she experiences the racial hierarchy. As a biracial woman, my girlfriend’s racial and ethnic experiences are very different from mine. She’s often perceived as “just” white. People generally react with surprise when they learn that her mother is Japanese and that she spent half her childhood in Tokyo. As someone racialized as a white woman, she acknowledges her white privilege. Her family’s Japanese heritage has further sensitized me to anti-Asian racism and xenophobia. And her experiences living in black communities from Harlem to Senegal and working with marginalized populations as a social worker and therapist have sensitized her to the intertwined realities of racism and colonialism. We’re both committed to acknowledging our differences and challenging our own biases. Neither one of us views interracial relationships as “the cure” to white supremacy.

~~~

To be sure, interracial intimacy has its challenges. But there can also be particular joys as well. I find that discovering common ground with someone of a different racial or ethnic identity can be a surprisingly delightful experience. I’ve had fascinating discussions with my white Jewish friends about our unexpected cultural similarities despite our otherwise divergent experiences. And with my lady, I’ve been astonished to learn that a black bi girl from Tennessee could have so much in common with a half-white, half-Japanese lesbian who grew up between two continents. We both feel like citizens of the world and know what it’s like to live outside the United States. We’ve bonded over our shared experiences of social exclusion—even though the causes of our exclusions were different. We both love being outside in nature, have an interest in synchronicity, and listen to random music like Deep Forest. Our tastes in wine, food, aesthetics, and humor largely overlap. When we moved into together, we discovered that we had many of the same books. We’ve created our own shared language composed of broken Japanese, Franglais, and ridiculous inside jokes.

But what we have is unique to us and involves an ongoing, daily commitment to nurturing our personal growth and contributing to our communities. It also involves telling the hard truths about power and oppression—and finding ways to sustain the trust required to bridge our differences.

Looking back on my own experiences with interracial intimacy, I no longer blindly romanticize interracial or intraracial dating. That’s just plain stupid. But I do recommend antiracist dating and friendship, regardless of the background of the folks involved.

~~~

This morning, as I slept-walked to the bathroom to brush my teeth, Bae called out:

“Are you awake?”

“Huh?” I stopped in the hallway and peered at her with half-open eyes. She paused and smiled at me like a Cheshire cat.

“Are you still sleeping?”

“I mean, I need my coffee. What’s going on?”

“Have you read the news?”

“Why baby? Why? What’s going on?”

“I’ll let you check the headlines.”

“No! Just tell me, dammit. I’m awake now. What’s up?”

“Did you hear about Meghan Markle?”

“DID SOMETHING HAPPEN TO HER?”

“Well—”

“Oh man, I hope nothing—”

“She’s engaged to Prince Harry!”

“Oh my god!”

Suddenly I was awake as fuck. I squealed with delight, jumped for joy, and starting clapping like a maniac. Then I walked over to Bae, who was laughing hysterically, and hugged her.

 

About the Author 

Crystal M. Fleming, PhD, is a writer and sociologist who researches racism in the United States and abroad. She earned degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and is associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University. Fleming writes about race, sexuality, and politics for publications including The RootBlack Agenda ReportVox, and Everyday Feminism, and she has tens of thousands of followers on social media. She is the author of Resurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France. and How to Be Less Stupid About Race.