I know it’s been said, even by me, that silence is complicity. However, I understand that some of us are quiet because we are processing. Some of us are learning and unlearning and it’s heavy. Some of us are struggling with not wanting to offend close friends and family, or clients and colleagues. You may be afraid of saying the wrong thing. Maybe you have anxiety and your mental health just can’t handle arguing with people. Maybe you have loved ones in law enforcement (like I do) and you’re concerned speaking your values will make them think you don’t care about them. I get it. This post is not about any of those circumstances. I do believe you should speak up, but I’ll be writing another post about that soon.
What I am saying is, we need to examine our priorities when we ARE vocal. There’s plenty of us who haven’t been vocal enough about the unjust treatment of the black community, particularly when it comes to disproportionate incarceration and police killings. Many of these murderers with a badge get away with a slap on the wrist, and these awful circumstances are just the tip of the iceberg.
The fact people are still saying ‘all lives matter’ is proof the message ‘black lives matter’ needs to be shouted by everyone who says they care about racial injustice. It’s so important that people are risking their lives by protesting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most protests have been peaceful, but that doesn’t make headlines. So what does the media show you? The outrageous stuff, right? Now, this is where people’s true colors show.
The people who have been vocal about the rioting and looting are problematic because they usually haven’t said anything (or nearly enough) about the injustices we are seeing. So their outrage is coming off as property being a priority over the brutal loss of lives. When you’re going to speak up, do it for our black brothers and sisters. Now more than ever, we need to speak up because our silence allows (blatant and subtle) racism in our circles to go unchallenged. When you speak up about the rioting and looting, but not the reasons they are happening, that’s when your silence is complicity.
Many of the peaceful protests turned violent because police officers attacked. Tear gas, rubber bullets, etc. were used at visibly disabled people, children, as well as outright excessive force like spraying peaceful protestors up close. Seattle and Cleveland are just a couple of examples. Not to mention the orange turd’s publicity stunt; using these tactics on peaceful protesters just so he could give his speech in front of the church holding a bible. Gini Gerbasi, the Rector of the church herself shared her account of the event.
So, isn’t outrage understandable? Many videos have shown that the vandalism and looting is being committed by YT (white people) people with ulterior motives who don’t even live in the area. This is done with the intent of taking attention off the message, and guess what! That’s what people are playing into when they speak out about the rioting and looting, but not against racism.
Lastly, there are plenty of protesters protecting businesses and people, including situations like this officer in Louisville, but that’s not talked about much, because it doesn’t fit their narrative. So, if you’re going to raise your voice about the rioting and looting, fine! But tell the whole story; make sure your voice is LOUDER about the loss of human life.
One last thing worth mentioning: Toxic Positivity. And yes, it’s a real thing. It’s like when you lose a loved one, and someone tells you that you’ll eventually get over it. But the thing is, you’ll never get over it. You learn to live with the loss, and it’s up to you to decide how you mourn and when and how you carry on. Similarly, telling black people to move on or keep it positive is incredibly cruel, callous, and just plain rude. So yes, practice positivity for your own self-care and well-being, but make sure you’re not being tone-deaf, insensitive, and dismissive.
If you have a question, let’s discuss it. However, if you just want to argue because you aren’t willing to sit with what I’ve already explained, and do some soul searching of your own, I can’t help you. And for my own mental health, I’m not wasting my breath.
If you’re going to speak up, speak up for black people right now. That’s the simplest way to put it.
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