01 June 2020
If you say #BlackLivesMatter as a white person, you’re acknowledging that black people are not treated fairly by the law in this country and that they face systemic violence.
You’re acknowledging that George Floyd who was alleged to have forged a check was casually killed by a cop who kept his knee on the right side of Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as he lay face down, handcuffed on the street. (May 25, 2020)
You’re acknowledging that Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her home in the middle of the night when police used a “no-knock” warrant to burst into her home unannounced with guns ready (for a failed narcotics raid in which they had already located the main suspect elsewhere), resulting in them shooting her at least eight times. (March 13, 2020)
You’re acknowledging that Ahmaud Arbery was chased and gunned down by white men who illegally tried to perform a citizen’s arrest as he was jogging through the neighborhood, and that these same killers went months without being arrested. (February 23, 2020)
You’re acknowledging that what is recorded on video and reported in the news is only a tiny tip of an enormous iceberg.
You’re acknowledging that rhetoric from our highest form of political office refers to tiki torch carrying white supremacist protesters as “fine people” and celebrates machine gun toting, COVID-19 protesters storming a state house, while calling people protesting police brutality “THUGS”.
You’re acknowledging that this is nothing new and it has been going on for hundreds of years.
You’re acknowledging that the current protests are fueled by unrest from all this and much more, and that any and every form of police brutality and escalation during these protests is further evidence of a failure of the system. That people who are given ultimate power over others and wield authority with lethal weapons need to be held to higher standards than the people they’re tasked with protecting.
You’re acknowledging that the phrase #AllLivesMatter, which sounds reasonable on the surface, is used to obfuscate and ignore these hard facts of inequality, and to out-right reject that they exist.
If you say #BlackLivesMatter, you know racial justice is not a zero-sum game, you’re not dragging down anyone’s value, instead you’re demanding black people deserve as much safety as everyone else.
It has been almost 7 years since—in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin—this term was created, and, beyond talking with friends or liking/upvoting things online, I never spoke out publicly. Maybe it was a fear of sounding pandering or inauthentic or being put in the spotlight and receiving criticism. As a white person, you can turn a blind eye and rest assured this issue won’t happen to you. All of this reeks, however, of ignorance and indifference. At the root, this is a human issue. I think there is power in speaking up—especially to friends and loved ones who otherwise wouldn’t hear it or at least aren’t hearing it from people like them.
It’s not enough to just say the words, but at least it’s a start. I stand against racism. #BlackLivesMatter
White people, observe and remember what is happening. Don’t feign ignorance or surprise when it happens again. If you’re more upset about the protests than what incited them, take a moment to evaluate why you feel that way. If your inclination is to dismiss or diminish people who bring this up, stop and think about why that is. Listen to black people who talk on this issue. Talk to other white people about what is going on.
Please take a moment to listen to this 9-minute clip from the end of a recent episode of “The Takeaway” on NPR—click on the segment titled, “What Does White Allyship Look Like at this Moment?”