To be honest I am unsure how to really start this post. I feel uncomfortable. I feel unsure of my voice. But I am going to speak up. After all, if I have learned one thing in life it’s not about having everything perfect in order to speak up, it’s the speaking up that matters. The pointing out of the undeniably wrong.
A couple weeks ago we found out about the tragically insensitive killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Today I found out about George Floyd. I am beyond angry, in shock and feel ashamed but like many I have been unsure what to do, until now.
A few days after we all found out about Ahmaud, I heard someone talking about purposely ignoring cases of this matter because it makes them hate the world. Ignorance is bliss. I was enraged. But at the same time I would be lying if I didn't say I also understood what this person was talking about (to a certain extent). There is so much gut wrenching content in the world today that sometimes it feels difficult to keep ourselves afloat. But that's the issue.... this isn't another piece of unnecessary news flashing upon our screens.... this was someone's life. Having the ability to ignore that fact is the definition of privilege. I hate negative news just as much as the next person but this isn't news. This is inhumane.
I was trying to figure out a way to write this or speak up in some way shape or form. Because even though I didn't know what to do, I felt that I could speak up, therefore I should. The second I decided I would, I felt I invaded someone else's space, which is horrifying because technically I had. Up until recently, marginalized individuals have been pretty alone in speaking out against injustice. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the individuals that have been tormented to preach and perform the details of their painful stories over and over again for the sake of everyone else’s awareness. So therefore, I continued to draft my way to speak up.
I began looking up videos and podcasts pertaining to white privilege. Eating everything up, I watched and listened to all the audio and videos I could get my hands on. Then one of the videos was an interview where the guest was speaking up against injustice in this world. She said that the first step was to learn and listen from marginalized women and men that have come before us. Ones that have been fighting this fight for eons, that we are just now stepping up to. She said to read books and watch interviews by any and everyone that are not white. Now comes the shame. The part that I don't want to say but feel this post would be a complete lie if I left it out. The second the woman being interviewed stated what she did, I completely agreed and understood..... but then a little voice in my brain said "but I won't have anything in common".... I know, I wanted to punch myself in the face too.
The idea that the only people that can be relatable are white people is outrageous. Which is why I was so ashamed the second I caught myself thinking that. We will never grow if that is our mindset. And to be honest that is a privileged mindset to begin with. Essentially all races besides white have had to watch, learn and look up to individuals that did not look, talk, or grow up like them (aside from a few core celebrity role models). We will continue the mental stagnation and at the same time propel white privilege forward if we have this mindset. That is the reason I immediately wanted to speak up.... but I’m shaking in my boots.
Where this came from I have no clue. I was raised in a household that was/is open minded and non-discriminatory. We had moral respect instilled in us, we were to treat the janitor of a company the same as the president. We were to be unbiased, warm and welcoming to any and everyone no matter their age, race or gender. Hell, one of my best friends growing up through childhood and still today is part of this marginalized group. So where the heck did this thought come from?
Obviously there was a big disconnect that I never saw, I was being ignorantly racist, except now it was showing up loud and clear. I am not telling this as a way to commit social suicide, I am trying to say that this could be you. I have never wanted to make someone feel alone or less than. But little thoughts like this adds to the separation and injustice. It is not just the blatantly racist individuals that are committing these terrorist crimes. Its people like you and me who don't realize we too are being discriminatory and therefore adding to the abomination.
If you have any form of privilege you have power that another person may not have, so use that privilege wisely.
It is not the responsibility of those affected to bring up the injustice and preach but of the other people who see the disgrace and use that anger and fire to advocate for those being diminished and mistreated. So learn all you can! Read every book imaginable, watch every video and listen to every podcast. Become enraged and then do something about it as I have begun. Get curious about your own diminishing thoughts and forgive yourself for anything you might find.
We need to be allies, we need to learn first and foremost, and then we need to talk about what we learn no matter how uncomfortable.
I will end with a quote I recently heard in a TedTalk, "an injury to one is an injury to all"- Heather C. McGhee
So how do we show up?
-Text “Floyd” to 55156
-Donate to Grass Roots Law through: https://theactionpac.com or https://donate.splcenter.org and seek out other organizations that are fighting against discrimination and hate crimes
-https://www.meandwhitesupremacybook.com/ This is a 30 day journaling workbook created by a woman named Layla Saad who has asked her very own spiritual and wellness community to do more about racism and violence.
-Call Minneapolis Mayor (612) 673-2100, the DA (612) 348-5550 and FBI (612) 569-8000 and demand prosecution for all officers involved in George Floyd's murder. (they have an automated voicemail setup where you can leave your message)
Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go