“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’” -Martin Luther King Jr.
The most indisputable truth to life is this: if you are white, then you have privilege. With this privilege comes responsibility–yes, responsibility– to be informed on the injustices surrounding us, uplift the voices of those in marginalized groups, and use your own voice to change the racist makeup of this country. If you haven’t already considered those points, let me pose this question: how many more innocent Black lives need to be lost for white people to finally wake up?
George Floyd was murdered due to an act of police brutality on May 25, however, this is by no means a stand-alone incident. Names like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, and countless others have become etched into American history because this gruesome cycle of police brutality has yet to be broken. It’s about time white people do something to change that.
As a white person, you may have thought some of the following statements: “I don’t want to get political on social media because I don’t want to stir the pot,” or “I’m apathetic towards voting for local and national government officials because I don’t know much about politics.”
Consider the fact that these thoughts, too, are coming from a place of extreme privilege. You don’t have to be highly educated to seek and gain basic education as to why Black Lives Matter. You don’t have to be well-versed in every political affair to make an informed decision about politics during the next election. By conducting some research and recognizing how leaders are responding to racial injustice right now, your vote in the upcoming election can help change the course of history for the better.
Growing comfortable in our shared ignorance is what keeps igniting the flames of hate, disparity, and injustice. Until we as white people realize that we don’t have to feel threatened by what we don’t know and instead seek to understand it, we can expect to see division to continue in this country.
Black Lives Matter is not a trend; it’s a rally cry for basic human rights.
We can only rectify the injustices in the world when we realize this: it is not the job of the oppressed to demand equality. As white people, our bare minimum responsibility is to restore a sense of empathy that has been lacking in America for years. We need to actively break out of our bubble of privilege and seek the truths from which we’ve looked away out of fear. We need to do our research, have uncomfortable conversations, and hold ourselves accountable.
I am by no means claiming that I know all there is to know about black history. As a white woman, I will never fully understand the life-threatening terror experienced when a police officer’s lights flash behind me. I will never fully experience the inequities black people face on a daily basis when performing activities that may be mundane to me. But I can actively do everything in my power to understand the experience. To speak up and advocate to end racial injustice. To uplift the voices of my Black friends and let their stories sink in to my bones. Truly, as a white person, this is the absolute least I can do.
We are currently living through history: the protests we’ve seen on the news will one day be recounted in our children’s history books, our voices will either ignore or fight to end racial injustice, and we will one day look back and see this time as a pivotal moment in America. You can either use your voice to fight for what is right, or remain silenced. And so, I leave you with this final question: when you look back on this time in the years to come, how do you want your voice to be remembered?