Today I saw someone’s post saying that if you’re silent on the world right now, to ask yourself why you’re so uncomfortable speaking up. Many will say this post came too late and I’ll respect that opinion. For me though, I’ve taken this time to digest and listen to a lot of people. I’ve used this time to journal, reflect, and work through my feelings, so that I may eloquently express my thoughts more clearly. I still may not get this right today, but there’s no more waiting to speak up on this matter for me.
I’m not writing this to appease anyone, I’m writing this for myself because it’s been heavy on my mind and heart, as I’m sure it has been for you. I’m not here to fuel the fire and bring negativity, I’m writing for clarity for myself and to hold myself accountable. So that the next time I want to say something and I’m too afraid to, I don’t hesitate. So that I push myself to read and listen more. Don’t take this as me on a soapbox, that’s far from my intention. I’m writing this as a reflective piece that I hope at least one person can take time to understand. So that this opens up conversation so that I can learn about people’s experiences that have shaped their opinions.
Here’s my take. I’m not silent because I’m okay with the wrongful deaths we have seen replayed and reposted across our timelines. I’m silent because if I feel this disgusted, confused and sad, then imagine how our black brothers and sisters are feeling. I’m not white, but I have privilege and I recognize that. I’m not white, but my fiancé is. I will never have to feel or worry the way my family and friends have to that are black, or have a black spouse or have bi-racial/ black children. I’m not white, but I mourn with the black community and I know I can be a better ally as a POC. I’m aware I will never understand.
Many countries have an underlying characteristic that unites their people. We never had that. We had slavery, Jim Crow, lynching and so much more. This country NEVER treated people equitably. There has always been a divide. This country had slavery for over 200 years and after that, black people still had to go through segregation. It’s only been 55 years since segregation was outlawed…black people have always been a marginalized group. We’re on a hamster wheel and until we start having these conversations and we start seeing action, we’ll stay on the wheel.
I understand there’s been destruction the last few days, there’s been ugly arguing, but people are more important than property. Although I feel terrible for every business hit, by many who were just opportunistic looters, I feel twice as terrible for our black CITIZENS not feeling heard and that this destruction is now being talked about more than the life we just lost. This is nothing new- racially fueled attacks are unfortunately nothing new. Let that sink in.
Here’s where I stand. I don’t think your profession makes you a bad person. I think you are either an evil person or a good person, just wearing the same uniform to work. You can take off a uniform, black people can’t take off color. I do truly believe there are good police officers because I know many of them outside of their uniform. I’ve seen their uniform amplify the good they want to provide to their community because they have a duty to do so.
For GEORGE FLOYD, this was not the case. For PHILANDO CASTILE, this was not the case. For BOTHAM JEAN, this was not the case. For BREONNA TAYLOR, this was not the case. I can go on and on…
In my opinion, this is so much deeper than that though. It’s when people of power, abuse it. It’s when people of power are racist, prejudice, discriminatory- they are bigots. We have seen this abuse of power and misuse of privilege amongst our citizens. We have lost the lives of AHMAUD ARBERY and TRAYVON MARTIN because of it. We have seen the “Karens” and the recent video with the Central Park incident with Christian Cooper that could’ve went a lot differently.
We continue to see this privilege and power abused in the healthcare system, judicial system, and in society as a whole. If we’re all US Citizens and we’re all supposed to be equal, then we need to start acting like it. It starts at home. We will probably never eradicate bigotry since it starts at home, but we can shame, we hold those people accountable, we can hold our society to standards that aren’t bias.
At the end of the day, we all need to do better and it will take time. We all need to talk about it more. We can’t sit here and say “all these people are animals, look at them looting” without also posting about the loss of life that fueled some of the outrage. We can’t go back to the peaceful protest Kaepernick started and still think he was kneeling for the flag/the military and not the injustice we see black people having to endure and how marginalized they are. We can’t keep shutting down people who have a platform to speak when they do.
I will personally be reading and educating myself to be an even better ally. Below are some resources and readings people have sent my way in case you would like to check them out too. It starts with us.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo | The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander | The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein | Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD
Here’s a great link with TONS of ways to contribute: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
Donate to the NAACP or The Minnesota Freedom Fund, sign petitions, call your representatives, vote, listen to POC openly and speak out. I know there’s a lot more you can read, listen to, and do, but this is a start.