Black Lives Matter: A Letter To White People
Dear White People,
Let's get this out of the way: It is uncomfortable to be white right now. It doesn't feel good to be part of a race that seems to disregard the lives of others. It doesn't feel good to review history - to see what our ancestors did. It doesn't feel good to know that while things might have gotten better, they're still not very good. It doesn't feel good to acknowledge systematic racism, or how it works to our benefit. It doesn't feel good to hear the worries and fears of the black community - to know that they worry about their safety in circumstances that we are privileged to deem "safe". It doesn't feel good, and I get that. But how we feel, is that really the issue? Ask yourself: Is your comfort > social injustice? Surely the answer is no. This is not about our feelings.. This is about black lives, and the disproportionate rate at which they are being brutalized. It's not an attack on our person, but rather the collective white whole - and our apparent refusal to speak up and make a difference
I avoided watching Alton Sterling's death for several hours today. I told myself that I didn't need to see it - I already knew what happened. I told myself it was too personal, that if I didn't know this man in life - I shouldn't participate in seeing his death. But then I saw his teenage son weep for him during a press conference - heard his son's mother say that she wouldn't let Alton be swept up in the dirt. I didn't want to watch this man die, but I do not for a single iota, want to participate in sweeping his injustice into the wind.
I watched in horror.
Then, in a not at all surprising turn of events, the media started tarnishing this man's existence. His every wrongdoing in life became frontline news. His history, his mistakes, his crimes. As if his death was somehow warranted because he didn't lead a flawless life. I cannot comment on this man's life - I cannot comment on his highest peaks or deepest trenches. He was a stranger to me. But I could watch his final moments, and know with no other knowledge, that his death was absolutely unwarranted. It was brutal, disgusting, and wrong. And no matter what the media does to portray him as a criminal - his death was anything but deserving.
Do not let the media sway you. What was done to Alton Sterling was WRONG.
For many years I was blissfully unaware that racism was still rampant. I thought it was an ugly past that had been laid to rest. I thought this because, well, I didn't participate in racism. And I didn't know anybody that did. It wasn't real in my life, so I allowed myself to believe it wasn't real. I've never seen a great white shark, yet those exist whether my eyes have fallen upon them or not. Racism is real, and if you need proof - ask any person of color about their experience. It happens everyday, in every single fold of this world. Whether you see it, or not.
White People: ENOUGH. We must stop turning a blind eye. Stop taking offense. This isn't about us, our comfort, or our character. How we feel is not important! This is about black lives - protecting them. Offering them every advantage that we take for ourselves. How can we change what we don't acknowledge? We must take the blinders off and take a stand.
I fell upon this quote today - it could not be more fitting:
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."
- Elie Wiesel