In a democracy such as ours, our voice is our power. What will your voice be?
As a child, there were very few white people at my schools and to be brutally honest, I couldn’t stand the majority of them. So, when people asked me to look at my own racism I just scoffed. Me racist? Come on.
For years, I carried that mentality. I had the, “I don’t see color” as my jam.
Then police brutality came up.
I carried my mantra. I fought to prove that I wasn’t a racist. On top of that, I was filled with righteous indignation for the police force- the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.
And yes, there are lots of brave men and women protecting us. Bear with me.
I automatically went into “defend the police” mode:
“The suspect must have done something to trigger that response.” “The police officers are probably suffering from PTSD due to violence and stress they’ve experienced before.” “Their jobs are hard, they don’t need more red tape and bureaucracy to have to deal with.”
But here’s the thing I realize now. I immediately went to defend the police from incurring bureaucracy to deal with, because that’s what I could relate to. I’ve been in situations where I had a camera on me for the duration of my job- with people standing by just waiting to get me fired for making a wrong move.
But I’ve never feared for my life when I see red lights flashing behind me.
I’ve never been classified as a threat because of the way I dress or look. I’ve never experienced anything negative because of the way that I look. I couldn’t relate to that, I couldn’t understand that.
I relate more to the stress of someone waiting to fire me, then to the stress of fearing for my life.
And that, is my white privilege.
Then came a whole new wave of emotions. Guilt, confusion, inadequacy. And goodness, those things feel uncomfortable.
That’s when I learned my real struggle with the Black Lives Matter Movement:
Fear. And pride. But mostly fear.
Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of speaking out, fear of being inadequate, fear of actually being racist.
I could go on but you get the gist.
I let fear block me from listening to the cries of my fellow humans. I let fear keep me from deeply examining the situation.
Luckily, I have been blessed with some very patient people of color as well as white advocates. They lovingly answer (I’m still learning) all of my questions as I take my journey from fear for my own insecurities to indignation for injustice.
Here are some of the thoughts I’ve had along my journey.
If you’ve ever had any of these, don’t beat yourself up. We’re all human.
But take a moment, analyze your feelings, find the root of the problem. Then remember that our black brothers and sisters are currently fearing for their lives. Figure out your issues quick and then join us as we stand to protect them.
Thoughts and feelings I’ve had about the Black Lives Matter movement:
“I’m not racist. I’m scared of everyone.”
- Actually, the last part is true. I am scared of everyone, especially men. And loud people. But the main fallacy is that the statement presents an argument completely unrelated to the question at hand. This argument is purely based in retaliation of the accusation that I am a racist. That’s not the discussion of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Black people are not rallying in major cities to say,”that white woman right there, she’s a racist.”
- They are rallying to say there is a deep seeded issue within our society that has unjustly classified individuals as threats based primarily on the misconstrued idea that their skin inherently makes them a certain way.
- The fight against police brutality isn’t about whether or not I’m a racist. IT ISN’T ABOUT ME AT ALL. It’s about minimizing violence against an entire group of our brothers and sisters. Pride only takes away from that.
“I’ve been bullied and harassed by a black person so that’s a sign that racism doesn’t exist.”
- Let me say this a different way to point out the fallacy: “oh I’ve been hit by a fellow female so clearly, sexism doesn’t exist.”
- A singular incident involving a singular person or subset of the group is not enough of a sample size to give a general overview of the population. Nor does it abdicate that overall feelings within a country’s culture have altered.
- I’ve also been bullied and harassed by every color. The fact that I specifically recall an instance where a black person harassed me shows the root of the sophism of stereotyping.
“The police are just trying to keep me and my children safe. Without them, who would keep my children safe?”
- Schools, community reform programs, mental health care professionals. Studies show that even something as simple as weekly neighborhood meals can astronomically lower crime rates.
- Yes, police do a lot and a lot of them of upstanding humans. But is the current structure the best option, with people dying or terrified that their children will be next? There are so many options out there, scenarios and situations that we have yet to explore.
- Before the founding of the United States of America, no one had ever separated from their mother country. Or established the democracy we have today. Did that stop our founding fathers? Did they say, “oh well yes the British are holding us at gun point, invading our homes, overtaxing us, treating us unfairly based on the fact we live somewhere they don’t, but they are keeping us ‘safe’ so we should keep things just the way they are?
- They most certainly did NOT. They said, “hey this is a problem. We can do better than this.”
- We. Can. Do. Better. Than. This.
“The guy who was shot has a criminal record.”
- What exactly is that criminal record? This is a fallacy based on the idea that one nugatory offense then requires the acquisition of all forms of punishment.
- Capital punishment is used exceptionally sparingly in this country. Do you know what the last man to be executed did? He gunned down his entire family. Five whole family members. Dead. There’s a difference, quite a significant one, between that and smoking something he shouldn’t be.
“Rioting is never the answer.”
- I stand by this, I am exceptionally against hurting people in any form. But I also understand why the rioting is happening.
- When you try to get people to listen with words and peaceful protests yet nothing happens, for years, decades, centuries, it seems as if the only way to be heard is to do something bigger, louder, more impactful.
- So, for those of you who disagree with rioting, let’s take responsibility for our part in the riots. No, we’re not holding the matches or the hammers that knocked down the buildings. But we are standing by, refusing to listen to the explanations, the peaceful cries for help. How can we improve? How can we help those without a voice feel more seen and heard, before it gets to that level of desperation?
“I had nothing to do with slavery. My ancestors had nothing to do with slavery. I don’t feel like I should be held responsible for the bad decisions of other people over 100 years ago.”
- Another way of saying this is, “Systemic racism isn’t my fault, so I shouldn’t have to do anything to change it.”
- Assuaging guilt, pointing the finger somewhere else, turning it into a blame game: none of these things are productive ways to solve the problem. Ok, maybe we didn’t have anything to do with slavery or the Jim Crow Laws. But they happened. They happened for a long time in this country. And because they happened, they have nasty tendrils that still wrap around multiple facets of life in America today.
“Slavery and the Jim Crow laws happened a long time ago.”
- Sort of.
- Yes, the 13th amendment came out in 1865 to abolish slavery, which I guess you could say is a long time ago. But slavery in America goes back to at least the early 1600’s. It went on in this country for more than 250 years. How could we expect a sickness that lasted so long to be completely gone in a mere century and a half?
- That’s also assuming after we abolished slavery, we went straight to work to destroy racism. But we didn’t. Instead, we established the Jim Crow Laws, segregation. Those malignants didn’t end until the 1960’s. Those racist legal mandates held a firm grasp on our country for 80+ years. It’s been less than 60 years since we got rid of them.
- Of course there’s still a lingering problem. Of course these issues are still affecting our society today. But don’t look at this with shame or discouragement. We just have to roll up our sleeves. We have to accept that we have some more work to do.
“I’ve lived in poverty too. My life was nowhere near cozy.”
- No one is arguing that racism is the only plague in this country. It’s just one of the problems we need to fix. But we need to fix it.
- As a side note, yes, I lived in poverty. But when I moved into an upper-class highschool, no one followed me home to make sure I lived within the district. No one assumed, based on the way that I looked, that I was as bad off as I was.My colored classmates didn’t get that privilege.
For those of you complaining about the rioting, frustrated with the onslaught on social media, and pushing this issue out of your mind. I get it. I understand how you feel.
But we need to put our feelings aside for a minute and listen to the roots of pain from our fellow humans. They don’t want us to grovel and give up our freedoms for theirs. They don’t want us to lower ourselves. They just want us to level the playing field.
We can do that. We can lift them up to where we have been able to stand.
Ideas of how to help:
– Support Black owned businesses
– Choose to magnify marginalized voices by sharing content on social media
-Use your voice to educate and empower a change
-read up on how police unions prevent corrupt police from being punished