It's Time For White America To Step Up
Before we begin, I wanted to have everybody watch the following video:
Right there are generations of pain and sadness being expressed. It’s the heaviness that black people carry around them in their everyday lives. As we go to our jobs, try to feed our families, and try to find some happiness within a country that tries to put impediments in the way. Over the past six days, many have marched in the effort to speak out about police brutality and racial injustices. Let’s keep it honest - we’ve marched many times before.
We’ve displayed our pain, screamed it through megaphones, and our murders have been shown. It’s time for white America to participate in that and get in the game. Nobody is asking to be on the frontlines in protests. However, as white people, you have a responsibility to use your platforms to destroy the pillars of racism. Especially, if you have Black people in your life that you care about.
I’ve experienced instances in my life where I could not be friends or date, someone, because of the color of my skin. Completely discounted and stripped of who I was before I got in the door. There have also been instances in my life where I have been told I was “one of the good ones.” Good ones? My mother and father are good. My brother is good. My black friends and extended family are good. The classification of black people due to perceived prejudices needs to end. Black people cannot do that alone. That starts in the homes and conversations of white people. It begins in the talks with your parents and friends who may be flippant of the overall message of the protest.
I don’t know how you can see a video where a man is down on the ground for minutes with a knee to the back of his head and not feel a twinge in his stomach? Also, please keep sharing those videos to a minimum. There are many of your black friends who experience PTSD from seeing them on a very frequent basis. You can spread awareness without sharing pictures of Black people near death.
It doesn’t stop with texts, social media messages, or reposts. It certainly doesn’t stop with secret gestures of support. Those conversations need to continue within the text and Slack groups, holiday dinners, nonchalant racial epithets said by grandmothers and fathers in passing. Speak the truth at the water coolers and the boardrooms you occupy. It’s not loving your black friends in secret because you’re afraid of how it will be perceived. It’s not the consumption of things such as Black culture and hip-hop music and discarding the people and history behind it. It’s not listening to black people and greeting them with “well, maybe if you did this different” or many gaslighting methods of whataboutism. I can wear anything from a hoodie to a suit and racist people will still view me in the same lens.
It’s not weaponizing the words of figures like Martin Luther King J.R. and ignoring his Letter From Birmingham Jail speech, the many marches he had where he was beaten and that he was assassinated in cold blood by a white supremacist named James Earl Ray. You can’t snuff out the deep rot of racism just glossing over the bad parts because you feel uncomfortable. For every ‘I Have A Dream speech, there’s a Blood Sunday in Selma.
Ask your black friends about their experiences with racism. We all have a story. Chances are - we have a handful. Don’t let this moment pass you by without speaking truth to power to many of the institutions you directly benefit from.
What happens if someone you know becomes the next Alton Sterling or the next Breonna Taylor? We can leave the same party at the same time and there’s no guarantee that I’ll make it home. Now, thankfully, some of my white friends who have reached out and generally want to help. We are thankful for you. They want to learn as much as they can and have been active participants. However, there are some that have been abnormally silent. Those who like me for writing about movies and music, but have not uttered a word when it comes to me speaking about my experiences. Those who share things that would hurt your black friends on the sly. We see it. We take note.
Speaking out against injustices isn’t going to mess up your Instagram feeds, follower count, or a brand. All of that is artificial anyway. The hurt of people is real. Even if it does, why would you want to be associated with people who participate in racism in the first place? If you truly see me - there’s more to occupational taglines. I’m a Black man, first and foremost. To see and love me means that you don’t separate that from me.
Racism and bigotry are things that are taught and passed down. It has to be attacked at the root. I can continue to write about it, record podcasts about it, march about it, and put slogans on signs. Black people have been speaking about their experiences and pain for decades. Have you been listening? Most importantly, have you used your voice to amplify those cries of injustice and not talk over them? Have you looked yourself in the mirror and seriously asked what you can do better?