“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
My mom asked me to write a piece on this subject following the murder of George Floyd.
At first, I said I can’t do that — writing is my business, and it’s not relevant to my content. I hardly ever post, especially about uncomfortable or political topics.
Then I had an epiphany. I am being ignorant and using my White privilege to remain silent. How dare I?
Innocent people are getting killed! Enough is enough!
I have a Black family — sisters, brothers, cousins, young nieces and nephews. How am I showing them love and respect silently? Is this the world I want them to grow up in? Where they live in fear to leave the house? Where they can’t even experience the joy of being young and stupid as a teenager or young adult, without getting murdered by a cop?
I have a platform, and I must use it to speak up. And no, I do not have a massive following or influence, but I do have a voice. I can no longer remain silent.
But this is not about me. It’s about how WE White people need to step up and fight for racial justice. Our Black brothers and sisters are tired of fighting alone, and they need our help.
White privilege is real. Own it.
The fact that you can wake up and go outside without thinking twice is a privilege. As Mckesson says, “acknowledge that there is a privilege you have [if you’re white], and use the privilege to disrupt that privilege itself.”
Amy Cooper is a perfect example of someone who abuses their White privilege. In the same week that we lost George Floyd, Amy Cooper proved just how easy it is to abuse the White card to fuel racism.
Recognize the power you have just by the colour of your skin. Let’s use our privilege to stand up and fight for our unheard brothers and sisters.
Use this power to call out and call in. Call your family, friends and community leaders to be apart of the dialogue on violence against the Black community. And call out those who pick apart pieces of Black culture for convenience, profit and social currency.
This article by Peggy McIntosh unpacks the daily effects of White privilege. If you still think White privilege is not real, please read it.
Anti-Black racism is not new. African Americans have been silently fighting for over 400 years!
We must educate ourselves on the history of anti-blackness, systemic oppression, and white supremacy. And equally important, be aware of what we say and how we say it.
Saying, “I don’t see colour” is not only incorrect but inconsiderate. I too am guilty of saying this even though my intentions were good. It was my White privilege speaking unknowingly. Although I meant that race shouldn’t impact the abilities and opportunities we have, a friend (if you are reading this, thank you, Alydia,) educated me on why it is the wrong thing to say. Saying it means you don’t see all the inequality and injustice. Black people and other people of colour are reminded every day of their skin colour through racially prejudice interactions.
As Dr Pierre Orelus says, “One can believe race does not matter if one does not have to deal with the daily psychological assault and socioeconomic oppression resulting from the social construction of their race. It is a privilege to set the parameters of racial discussions and expect that others will comply.”
Another way to educate yourself is to listen to and use resources from the Black community, Black leaders, Black activists, and Black women.
“Do NOT put the labour on Black people to educate you.” — @theconsiouskid
“There is no winning in silence.”
That is why I am writing to you. We need to start talking about what is uncomfortable and what is important. We must keep the conversation going on police brutality, White privilege, understanding our cultural difference and the role it plays in our biases, and so much more. The conversation isn’t over until racial justice is served. And without justice, there is no peace.
Mckesson says, “If we allow white supremacist ideology to spread without being challenged, people continue to replicate it.”
If you have Black friends, colleagues, listen to music by Black artists, or appropriate Black culture in any way, then speak up! Show your support, respect and love. We can’t change the things that go unspoken.
If you are not sure how to start the conversation, take a look at this article. Kendra Lowery discusses her experiences as a facilitator and looks at how we can bridge the gap in the cross-racial dialogue.
We can protest, march and share on social media all we want. But when it comes down to it, real change is structural.
We must use democracy and our institutional power to change the system.
Cardi B used her platform to discuss this on Instagram as well. It essential to go out and vote for presidential elections. But just as important is also to go out and vote for state and local elections as well.
You can vote for governors, mayors, and even school board members. These lower-level authorities have power too and can introduce the change needed to make a real difference in what is happening in your area. Maybe it’s time for change to take the bottom-up approach.
Barack Obama discusses the importance of understanding the levels of government and their impact. Because “the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.” — Barack Obama.
My final thoughts.
I write this not to attack, but to educate. However, there is definitely aggressive encouragement towards my White friends. Though I am not perfect, I am trying to be better.
In addition to the things mentioned above, you can also donate, sign various petitions like to have the police officers charged and held accountable, share on social media and stay updated following #BlackLivesMatter.
The Black community is dying and tired of trying. After centuries of peaceful protests, “a riot is the language of the unheard,” — Martin Luther King Jr. The riots happening in Minnesota are the epitome of their anger and frustration.
They need our help. It’s our turn to fight for what is right.
We must stand up. We must speak up. We must show up.
Not just for George Floyd, but for all of the Black lives, we’ve lost.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” — Martin Luther King Jr.