One hurdle Black Americans face is the stigma that we could do better if only we’d try as hard, or harder, as white people. It’s not immediately apparent to many allies that we are still living with the repercussions of practices, policies, and ideals created long ago specifically to make it harder for Black Americans to be successful. There’s a belief that we are “the cause of all our own problems,” and therefore, it’s on us to find solutions.
The article “Stop Blaming the Lettuce: Rethinking Black Wealth” from NPR helps shed light on this topic, including the following quote:
“One of my favorite quotes from a philosopher - Vietnamese philosopher, it states something like, when you’re growing a head of lettuce and it’s not growing, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look to see if the soil is rich. You see if it’s getting sunlight. You see if it’s getting water. You never blame the lettuce. But when we talk about Black communities and the lack of growth, we’re constantly blaming the lettuce.”
Until more of us recognize, dismantle, and excise racist systems, no amount of “trying harder” will bring about equal opportunity for equal effort. This is why we have chosen support for Black-owned businesses as our first area of focus for ally support and education.
It is important for allies to examine our beliefs, challenge our assumptions, and to educate ourselves on the facts.
To learn more, here are a few quick ways to educate yourself:
- Read or listen to “Stop Blaming the Lettuce: Rethinking Black Wealth” (<10 minutes to read, 20 minutes to listen)
- Read “'It was gutting': Family says home's appraised value soared after they removed all traces of 'Blackness' from their home” to see a current example of how merely the reminder of Blackness in a home can negative impact home value (5 minutes)
- Read “The Neighborhood Is Mostly Black. The Home Buyers Are Mostly White.” to understand how gentrification negatively impacts Black homeowners and communities (<10 minutes)