It took me a long time to write this.
I would sit down, trying to compose all of my thoughts perfectly, and exhaust myself from emotion of not knowing the right and wrong things to say.
No one knows exactly what to say right now – how can I, a college-aged white girl who has never experienced discrimination or feared for my life because of the color of my skin, possibly say something that will ease the fears of the black community?
This is the problem. So many of us get bogged down on saying the perfect thing or not making waves with anyone that we say nothing at all. Despite countless resources and shareable posts flooding our feeds this past week, a majority (while it doesn’t seem like it) have stayed silent. “Kept their faces” out of the movement, if you will.
Your silence is white privilege’s loudest voice.
If you have had the option or made the choice to say nothing publicly about the racial climate in America, you are using your white privilege to make yourself comfortable. It is a privilege to not be vocal when protests of any kind are flooding your streets. It is a privilege to post photos of your matcha lattes and outfits of the day and not say a single thing about the deaths of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery or the countless other Black Americans who have died at the fault of society for no reason other than the color of their skin.
If any of what I just said made you uncomfortable, good. That’s the point of this. For too long White America has sat in complete comfort while names like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner floated through our television sets and news notifications. We must sacrifice our positions of comfort to stop hearing these stories of tragedy and praying for healing. We must make room on our couches for our Black brothers and sisters to join us.
There is no easy way out in race politics. There is no “well I’m doing this, so why do I need to do that?” There is no limit of where the help stops. We should be exercising every voice we have – social media, political connections, bail funds, family and friends who are blind to the movement – in this fight for justice. This revolution should not stop when you turn your phone off or on. It should spread into every facet of our lifestyles, just as racism has for those that we’re fighting for right now.
It shouldn’t have taken me this long to write this, because now I know, sometimes it is okay to say the wrong thing if you are willing to learn why it’s wrong. It is better to speak up in situations of injustice and try to sort out why what you said could have been better or “more perfect” later.
If your feed is going back to normal right now, change it. Continue to amplify black voices and post content that genuinely contains useful material that educates you and others on how to help. This is not a “I posted a black tile to prove I’m not racist – now back to regular programming!” type of movement. This is a persistent fight to unravel generations upon generations of systematic oppression that directly targets the Black community. It’s going to take a lot longer than a week.
I think I half-expected my final draft of this piece to be so profound it would move every reader. But now I know, profound literature from a white girl isn’t what we need right now. What we need is to understand, to listen, to speak up and act out about the racist plague that is slowing killing off our black friends and family.
What we need right now is to say and recognize that Black Lives Matter. And then we need to prove it.