I’ve watched my friend deliberately provoke white people on several occasions.
And, by provoke, I mean to “question thoroughly” with an intent or purpose.
I haven’t always known what Julia’s internal struggle and intent has been. By listening to her line of questioning or her comments or the personal thoughts that she speaks aloud in certain situations, I can ascertain that her agenda is to name the privilege that white people live with every day and speak into existence equity and justice for the black race.
To that – I commend Julia for provoking white people in order to effectively initiate change.
I don’t know that I effectively provoke and encourage reactions to inequities from the people around me on a regular basis. Though, I make a conscious effort to do so. The difference, however, is that my approach may not be with as much powerful tact as my good friend.
One of my downfalls is that I’m not always comfortable being uncomfortable. For example, if I’m having lunch with a white friend, and the wait staff fails to acknowledge my existence (which happens often), I may have a full blown fit. And by fit, I mean, immediate discussion and discourse with the person with whom I dine. If I’m having lunch with a colleague or someone who I don’t know as well, I will be silently annoyed and possibly angry.
Julia is good at naming those ideals that are circumstantially unjust, regardless of what other acts are taking place and who is around. So, more likely than not – Julia can’t be silently angry.
And, this is the exact resilience it takes to effect change.
Being silently angry didn’t earn us the right to vote.
So, I challenge us all to provoke each other. Be like Julia. For only provocation can lead to discussion. And, only with discourse can we fulfill Martin’s complete dream.
I want so badly to always always speak up like Julia.
I’m warming up my vocals, but on a whole, I’m still finding my voice.
*Read Julia’s piece: I Deliberately Provoke White People here: https://parlae.org/2016/02/06/i-deliberately-provoke-white-people/