How To Talk About Racism

When the protests started two weeks ago, and I was thinking about how I could help the cause, I resolved never to let the racist speech go around me. I resolved never to walk away in silent disgust, but to speak up, each time. I resolved to make it clear that the racist language is socially unacceptable.

I realized how difficult it was to follow through just a couple of hours later. One of the most frustrating parts is that a lot of racism comes from my home country and from the Americans, who came here from the same place. Over a year ago, I reduced my presence in the Russian blogosphere to about ten percent of my previous activity. But that time, I did not feel like anything I am saying could make a difference, so I reduced my presence there to a small group of close friends, many of whom are not fluent in English. 

For about a week I was torn between wanting to keep my promise, and not wanting to start any discussions in Russian, but then several people emailed me and asked me to say something, They were writing to me that they do not have enough information, that Russian media is keeping silent about the riots, that their immigrant friends are horrified, and that they want to know the truth. 

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It Will Get Better

Several things happened, which made me feel more positive and reassured me that at least in the state, we could move in the right direction.

Illinois moved to phase 3 of reopening last Friday. The city was set to move to the next phase on Wednesday. And since the riots started, we were unsure whether the Mayor would proceed with the original plan.

She did. And I liked a lot how she explained her decision. She said that she traveled the city and talked with many business owners about what they think would be the right thing to do. And they all told her that the city should move on.

The Loop will still be closed, and the bridges will be up for now, but the rest of the city will start to reopen, with all precautions and reduced capacity, but still moving to phase 3. And that makes me feel really, really good. Now we need Metra to resume its services. They were shut down for the past two days, and now are cautiously reopening tomorrow.The other thing which elevated my spirits was that she said that if Trump tries to dispatch the military to the city, “she will see him in court.” And that will never happen on her watch.

Also, the governor reiterated that peaceful protests should continue because people have a right to express their frustration with injustice. I find it extremely important because if protesters were asked to stay home and not escalate the situation, it would mean that the goal of those who want to discredit the movement is achieved. I can’t even describe how I am thrilled that the fight for justice continues.

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For the Historical Records

Yesterday, I looked at the new photos which appeared in Tribune and decided that I would not repost any more. Many people who saw the Saturday pictures commented that they looked like from the war zone. But the truth is that they are nothing in comparison with Sunday. I feel like reposting the photos with guns is promotes violence and decided against it.

On Sunday, the Mayor ordered a curfew from 9 PM to 6 AM. She asked the protesters to disperse peacefully, but the CTA was stopped by then, and the bridges were up. How people could peacefully disperse, God only knows.

There was a lot of looting during curfew and lots of fires, and gunshots, and wounds, and deaths. There was no CTA, and no Pace buses and the roads were blocked.

Today, the situation remained pretty much the same. No Metra today and tomorrow, no CTA in the Loop and surrounding areas, no non-essential traffic to the Loop is allowed. There is hardly any store in the Loop that is not looted, including 120 years old iconic camera shop.

Many essential activities are canceled, including COVID testing stations, Greater Chicago Food Depository, and free meals distribution for low-income students. The Illinois National Guard was brought in to guard the Loop.

After the city center was locked, the riots moved to the South and West Side and some suburbs. Most of the businesses were getting ready to open on Wednesday when the city was scheduled to move to phase 3. Now, the situation is uncertain. The governor pulled more of the National Guard troops to enforce the order in the suburbs.

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My City, My Love is Badly Wounded

I should probably save all these photos because I am not convinced they will stay on the Tribune’s website for long. I will do it tomorrow. For now, I am just reposting the links… Mayor Lori said she is giving the protestors some time to peacefully disperse. Still, with all the bridges up and all the public transport halted, I am not sure how it will be possible.

Right now, I am blaming myself for letting it go. When I heard some people making comments about being afraid to take the Green line because there are all these black people on the trains, I would turn away with disgust but often comment little or nothing. I thought that there is no point in arguing with these people and that they will just die away because they are incurable…

These people may be incurable, but I should never let it go. I should never have given anybody the idea that they can say all these things, and think it’s a joke.

How will we rebuild ourselves? And before that – how will it end? How will this night go? Will we be able to heal? When and how?

My people. My city. My love. My soul.

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