I may have been born into a socio-economically disadvantaged family and raised by a single mother, but I'm privileged. Why? I'm privileged because I'm white. My race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation haven't ever played a role in the way that the world treats me. No one has ever perceived me as a potential threat because I'm a short, white woman. My privilege never created issues for me that I saw my friends of color experience. It isn't just that I simply can't be silent any longer. It feel as though I have been shouting from the rooftops. "We Can't" be silent as a society any longer. If we continue to remain silent, racism will continue.
We can't breathe (George Floyd).
We can’t go jogging (Amaud Arbery).
We can’t relax in the comfort of our own homes (Bothem Sean and Atatiana Jefferson).
We can't ask for help after being in a car crash (Jonathan Ferrell and Renisha McBride).
We can't have a cellphone (Stephon Clark).
We can't leave a party to get to safety (Jordan Edwards).
We can't play loud music (Jordan Davis).
We can’t sell CD's (Alton Sterling).
We can’t sleep (Aiyana Jones).
We can’t walk from the corner store (Mike Brown).
We can’t play cops and robbers (Tamir Rice).
We can’t go to church (Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson).
We can’t walk home with Skittles (Trayvon Martin).
We can’t hold a hair brush while leaving our own bachelor party (Sean Bell).
We can’t party on New Years (Oscar Grant).
We can’t get a normal traffic ticket (Sandra Bland).
We can’t lawfully carry a weapon (Philando Castile).
We can't break down on a public road with car problems (Corey Jones).
We can’t shop at Walmart (John Crawford).
We can’t have a disabled vehicle (Terrence Crutcher).
We can’t read a book in our own car (Keith Scott).
We can’t be a 10 yr old walking with our grandfather (Clifford Glover).
We can’t decorate for a party (Claude Reese).
We can’t ask a cop a question (Randy Evans).
We can’t cash our check in peace (Yvonne Smallwood).
We can’t take out our wallet (Amadou Diallo).
We can’t run (Walter Scott).
We can’t breathe (Eric Garner).
We can’t live (Freddie Gray).
These are sadly only several recent examples. There are so many more. Violence is not the answer. Rioting is not going to prove a point, but MLK taught us peaceful protests will. The best way to stop hatred is with LOVE. Ghandi said it best, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Here are some ways that we can be allies to POC (I am focusing on them because it's a hot topic, but it applies to all marginalized populations):
1) Teach your children love. Hate is learned. Talk to your children and other young people about racism.
2) Show respect.
4) Find out about them as a person. Make a connection.
5) Don't make assumptions.
6) Don't take over - stand next to POC.
7) Provide data when met with conflict. It's more difficult to argue with facts.
8) Don't assume you know what it is like to be a POC or what's best for them.
9) Don't be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. That's how we learn.
10) Don't take everything personally.
11) Be honest, open, and understanding in your conversations.
12) Don't allow racism to happen around you. When you're complicit, you're almost as guilty.
13) Don't ask one person to speak on behalf of their entire race.
14) Assume racism is everywhere, every day.
15) Notice who is the center of attention and who is the center of power.
16) Notice how racism is denied, minimized, marginalize, and justified.
17) Understand and learn from the history of whiteness and racism. Study voter suppression if you need someplace to start.
18) Understand the connections between racism, economic issues, sexism, and other forms of injustice.
19) Take a stand against injustice. Intervene in situations where racism is occurring.
20) Be strategic. Decide what is important to challenge and what’s not. Attack the
source of power.
21) Don’t confuse a battle with the war.
22) Don’t call names or be personally abusive. It's an easy trap that lowers us to their level.
23) Support the leadership of people of color. VOTE!
24) Learn something about the history of white people who have worked for racial justice.
25) Don’t do it alone. You will not end racism by yourself.
Above all, choose love.