Reparations matter and are relevant (and doable) now

Today’s offering is a guest post from Kathryn Terry of Reparations Roundtable™, a group of white and white- presenting folks dedicated to the educational and direct giving aspects of reparations work (for more on her and the group, see info at the end after my usual giving/support blurb). – BGIM

I am a reparationist. A white-presenting woman who firmly believes in the redistribution of wealth and resources to Black Americans in order to address the deep harm they have suffered at the hands of white supremacy culture. At the hands of us…white people. Black Americans’ generational wealth was (is) stolen by white Americans, and the damage from that theft of resources reverberates endlessly via institutional racism and white support of it. 

I am a reparationist because I have learned over many years that it doesn’t matter if we personally didn’t participate in the actual theft of resources from Black communities. It doesn’t matter if our families were/are lower or middle class going back generations. “But my family is poor and we never owned slaves” is not an inoculation, in any way, against upholding systems of oppression that we think we benefit from (we do, unfairly). We are white, and therefore have been upholding white supremacy culture, the foundation of institutional racism, since we created it. From slavery to Jim Crow to redlining to the school-to-prison pipeline to unjust sentencing to do you get what I’m saying? Reparations are owed to Black Americans. 

This weekend, like every weekend and most days of the week, I’m raising funds for Black women and femmes and their children. I belong to a direct-giving reparations group, and every dollar we raise goes to supporting Black people in crisis. We don’t operate the way nonprofits do, generally doling out small amounts for a very narrow group of needs and/or people on a one-time basis. We provide support with critical living needs for as long as people need it. Our goal is moving people from crisis to stability. There’s never enough money, but I hope and believe we are making a difference in the lives of the Black women, femmes, and marginalized genders that come to us for assistance. 

As white people, once we open our eyes to how much damage whiteness and racism have done to Black people and communities, how can we deny that reparations are due, and that it’s long past time for them to be paid? For me it’s not possible to ignore the deep inequity created by centuries of racial oppression, so it feels inevitable and natural that I found my way to reparations work. I have always cared deeply about injustice. I have always wanted to bridge the deep divide between myself and Black people, who literally have no reason to trust anyone white after hundreds of years of oppression. Working alongside, and at the direction of, Black women organizers for the last two years in reparations work has been a privilege that I don’t take lightly. I try to be a consistent anti-racism ally and accomplice. It takes work, and a lot of that work is self-awareness and unlearning deeply ingrained racism. If you’re thinking right now “But I’m not racist”, I’ve been there. It’s our knee-jerk reaction to these conversations, and we can get past it. We are all racist and the difference is, what are we doing about it? What are we doing to change ourselves and society? What are we doing to heal the damage that our collective racism has inflicted on Black people? 

A big, impactful thing we can do is to get involved in reparations work. Seek out anti-racism and reparations groups you can join and learn with. Pay Black organizers and anti-racism activists by subscribing to support their work, whether they have a Patreon account or just feature their pay apps in their social media profiles. They deserve to be paid for the education they’re providing and the labor they’re giving to educate white people. We all deserve to be paid for our work. Budget income for reparations giving, help other people raise funds by sharing fundraisers. 

I urge people to seek out the truth about racism and the daily lived experiences of Black and brown people, get past the feelings that it will bring up in you, keep pushing yourself when you feel guilty or defensive or angry that this is what is true, and not what you believed the world to be. The point of learning is not to make us feel guilty or ashamed; it is to bring us to an awareness that Black people have been living under systems of oppression that center whiteness, that we are a part of those systems, and that we must actively work to dismantle them. Reparations through direct giving smashes the paradigm of capitalism and it’s built-in racism, putting dollars directly into the hands of Black people. 

It took many years for me to get to the point of aspiring to and working towards being actively anti-racist. It feels so much easier to allow ourselves to continue in our blindness to how racist the world around us is—our families, our friends—but we as white people are individually and collectively racist. To face that is to accept that yes, even you yourself have been racist during your life, whether you meant to be or not. Our intent doesn’t matter; the results of our action or inaction do. If we’re not actively seeking to dismantle racist systems of oppression, we are passively upholding them. Inaction in the face of great injustice is racism, too. 

There has been enough discussion about reparations. What is really needed is for us to come together and do the work of reparations and anti-racism. We do not have to wait for a law to be passed, for years of studying how and when and who reparations should be paid to; we can begin the work ourselves. Direct giving as reparations is the model for white and white-adjacent people to do the work of dismantling institutional racism, and we are always looking for other white people to join us. You can find our group, Reparations Roundtable™, on Facebook, and on Twitter @ReparationsR. 

Sincere gratitude to Shay for asking me to write this piece. I have been reading and following Shay’s anti-racism work on her website, Facebook pages, and Twitter for a few years now and I have learned so much from her. I appreciate the opportunity to engage with her community, learn, and grow together. I hope if you’re reading this that you also support Shay via her Patreon account. The education that Black women have been providing to us for as long as I can remember is worth supporting with our dollars. Her anti-racism work is not free. We shouldn’t think of it as free.  Ultimately, reparations is really about freedom. In the words of famous activist and Civil Rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” Believe it, and let’s get busy.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.

Today’s guest poster, Kathryn Terry, is an active member of Reparations Roundtable™, a group of white and white-presenting folks dedicated to the educational and direct giving aspects of reparations work. She is also an advocate for children and adolescents, active in public school mentoring programs for the last several years. She loves writing, singing, dancing, and building community with people who are intent on becoming anti-racist and working to dismantle institutional racism. You can find Reparations Roundtable™ and join the group on Facebook, follow on Twitter @ReparationsR, and you can support Black women and femmes directly via their Patreon at

Calling All White People, Part 42: If only you didn’t misbehave we wouldn’t have to oppress you

Calling All White People, Part 42

(A periodic attempt to mobilize white people for something other than supporting just other melanin-deficient folks and maintaining a status quo of a nation geared toward whiteness as the baseline and the norm)

By An Average White Guy

TODAY’S EPISODE: You brought it all on yourselves, they say   

[To find other installments of “Calling All White People,” click here]

You made me do it.

You brought it on yourself.

If only you had just minded your business.

Just follow the rules and you won’t have any problems.

These are just a few of the litanies that abusers like to recite, whether those abusers are police officers overstepping their authority or domestic partners assaulting or psychologically harming their supposed “loved one” or anyone else with a propensity to harm—and a willingness to justify it by blaming the victim.

It’s an excuse and a pattern as old as time and it’s inflicted on many different groups. It is interesting, though, and disheartening, to see how regularly it plays out with regard to race and official responses to white agitators vs. Black ones. (I don’t use “agitator” judgmentally, by the way—like so many things, sometimes agitation is warranted; sometimes not.)

Early this year, we saw protests in New York City over transit fees and transit service and increased police presence on the transit system. This is a movement that goes beyond just race, but there was a significant racial component as increased policing in the subway system has seen increased and disproportionately aggressive behavior toward Black and other people of color.

My point isn’t to get into the weeds as far as the citizen complaints and the merits of the protest, but more to get to the point of how when many Black people complained about police responses toward them when they engaged in fare evasion, people (white people almost exclusively) were quick to point out: “If they paid the measly fare they wouldn’t get arrested.”

Except aside from the fact fares add up and the NYC subway system falls short of meeting needs of its commuters, why are Black people so much more often the target of the police there? Why are police so eager to spend their time arresting people for evading train fares? Is that the best use of the police? I suppose it is if you’re a police force that embraced “stop and frisk” and wants to exert power over people of color.

But hey, let’s focus on the Black folks and others who are lawbreakers even though white folks rarely get that level of pushback from police unless they’re severely mentally ill or homeless.

And then more recently at Syracuse University, students staging a sit-in and being suspended for it, while white students who had committed various racist acts (which is much of what precipitated the sit in) continued to go unpunished. The #NotAgainSU effort is a multiracial coalition, but led by students of color, so let’s be honest: The weight is falling mostly on non-white heads. Even the students of color on campus who weren’t involved in the protest and suspended must live with knowing their school values ignoring white misbehavior more than protecting student safety and well-being.

But again, I don’t want to get into the weeds. What I want to point out is how many people (again, almost all white) said, “Well, the protestors were told they could move to another space on campus.”

So, if they made things more convenient for administrators, they wouldn’t have been punished. And yet, the only way to move the administrators is apparently to make them uncomfortable. But yes, let’s go ahead and blame the victims and people working for change who don’t just bow and get out of the way.

Over and over Black people in particular have been told if they follow the rules all will be fine. Do what you’re told. Toe the line. Obey the police. Don’t do anything remotely provocative. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.

And if you do anything—speak a word of your mind or make a tiny movement we don’t like—then you deserve what you get.

The lie of saying things will be fine and Black people and other POC won’t get in trouble if they do what they’re told is that we live in a nation where a 6-year-old’s tantrum in elementary school leads to her being arrested and perp-walked by a cop. Yes, she was Black, and yes, Black students are punished more heavily for behaviors than white students who do the exact same things. That’s been shown in study after study.

It’s the same time after time. If only you had done what we said; if only you had done it the way white supremacy says you should.

It would be bad enough if that were true—if obedience to the oppressor kept Black people and other POC safe. But it doesn’t. And that makes it so much worse and demands so much more of us as white people to fix this shit.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.

The costs of awakening, or support BGIM Media

I am going to keep this short and sweet: If this site is valuable to you, and you have the financial capacity, please become a monthly patron or make a one-time gift today. 

It’s been a year since I last directly reached out and asked supporters to support the site; though I do post semi-regular reminders across all of our social media channels. 

Despite seeing our readership numbers and numbers across all social media platforms increase in the past year (once again), we have never made our Patreon goal of 600 monthly patrons. In the past year, I have spoken in various parts of the country as part of BGIM Media and met avid readers of this site from all over the United States. It’s been great, but to keep the site open and available to all, as well as providing daily postings on our Facebook page, we have to be fully funded. 

What I do here at Black Girl in Maine Media was once very niche. But as awareness of race has exploded in this country, it has brought an influx of readers to this space in recent years. It is thrilling to know that we boast readership both nationally and internationally, and no doubt the increasing popularity of this site has led to a significant increase in speaking work for me. However, the site and our writers will always be the flagship operation—and my baby. But unlike speaking engagements, there are very real costs to running this site. Regular and continuing costs.

Monthly pledges determine the number of writers I can afford on any given month as those pledges pay the writers, cover the material costs of running the site, cover our editing costs, and occasionally even pay me. I also believe in supporting the work of other Black folks and POC and paying it forward. 

When pledges fall short, or fluctuate as they have in recent months, I cover things—but I would prefer not to, and honestly it’s not sustainable for me to do so. Our inability to meet our patron goal led to my short-lived podcast going on permanent hiatus because I cannot cover the production costs out of my pocket. In recent months, I have wanted to bring on additional writers—specifically several Black women who with an excellent political and racial analysis—but their rates are higher than what we can afford. 

While you may pay for your access to the internet, that doesn’t pay for the content you can access. As many of you know, the majority of  media operations limit access to their content for non-subscribers as the traditional advertising models simply no longer are viable in the digital age. 

Several years ago, the idea of paying a few bucks for a site might have seemed preposterous, but it is now a reality. I am deeply committed to anti-racism work and have chosen to keep my site free and accessible to all but that only works if enough people do feel moved to support the work with a monthly gift of $5 or more. So I am asking you to support the site today, if you find our writing and media platform to be an invaluable part of your learning. 

As always, thank you for your support and keep fighting! Fight as if your lives depend on it. 

In solidarity, Shay aka Black Girl in Maine 

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.