An Open Letter to My Black Brothers, Sisters, and Non-Binary Siblings

by Sean Goode

To my Black Brothers, Sisters and Non-Binary Siblings, 

What do you say when you’ve run out of words? What do you do when every action rooted in love is met with a reciprocal act blossoming with hatred? Where do you go when there is no escape from the reality that we are only days away from watching another state-sanctioned murder of a Black person in America? In our angst, we have marched, protested, rioted, preached, pleaded to politicians who have overpromised, offered platitudes, and in return have expected our gratitude while seemingly nothing has changed. Yet somehow, in many ways, we stand as a community divided, arguing over which boat is best suited to travel back to our ancestral roots as royalty.  As Black people in America, we are not a monolith, and yet we are all inextricably woven into a social fabric that for over 400 years has been placed at the foot of the throne where white supremacy prevails. In this moment, we need the collective us more than ever. Not as competitors in the Olympics of Oppression, where we put my hardship against your hardship and see who has more scars from the whip of inequity, but as co-laborers for a common cause of Black liberation.

If we are to live as free, we must choose to be unbridled from the chains of golden parachutes and watches that seduce us into believing that there is a “right way” to play the game. The game is fixed; it is embedded in a caste system, reinforced by racism, that tokenizes a few in an effort to give hope to the many who will never get a chance to advance past go, let alone collect their $200 or overdue 40 acres and mule. White supremacy has the monopoly here; there is no place for us to authentically engage. 

What should we do?

It begins with the hard work of healing. In our individual pursuits of freedom, harm has been done, and we need to begin a collective action of healing the woundedness that lives between us. We know the areas that hurt and how they keep us from trusting, keep us from building, keep us from being in shared space with one another. Recently, we’ve experienced the depth of this pain in a new way as it has been exacerbated in this season of unrest. This woundedness has served to divide us on issues which we agree on so much more than we disagree. How long will we let this unresolved hurt get in the way? Growing up, we swept the hurt under the rug and walked over our collective wounds with trepidation, hoping not to trip over our past as we engaged in our daily coming and going. Who among us will be vulnerable enough to uncover what has been hidden, own their role in the hurt, and begin to earnestly seek out what must be done for restoration to take place? 

As a healed people, a restored people, we are best positioned to stand as one people. This isn’t to say we have one approach, method, or role, but that we are one body, with many members, each equally valued and none dismissed as unnecessary. It is to say that we do have one message. A common song that we sing together in all of the ways that we serve. One that is well rehearsed, intentional, strategic and harmoniously shared as a testimony to the watching world. We must sing from a place that resonates from the shores of our ancestral land, with a pathos that reverberates through the hollowed out shells of sunken slave ships, a liberty that cuts through the cotton fields in the South, a determination that travels over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a fight that honors the many Black bodies that have died seeking liberty and a joy that reminds us of the gift of today. 

Family, I love you, and I need you. We need each other as it is only in our togetherness that we will overcome. 

Sean Goode    

Sean Goode is the Executive Director of Choose 180.