“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.” – Ijeoma Oluo
This week has been difficult, for lack of a better word. How many more Black people have to die like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor?
People are on the streets, and they’re angry, and they have every single right to be angry.
What are we going to do about the conditions that have created this level of outrage?
How are we as individuals going to fix the systemic inequalities and oppression that Black people face on the daily?
Silence And Neutrality Means You Side With The Oppressor
We as citizens should take it upon ourselves to encourage hard conversations about racism in America.
If you are silent in instances of racial injustice and oppression, you are complicit.
If you get heated over people saying “Black Lives Matter” because you think “All Lives Matter” then you are part of the problem.
Government leaders who remain silent are part of the problem. Your friends, family, and neighbors who remain silent or neutral are also part of the problem.
Through their silence they allow discriminatory rhetoric and actions to go unchallenged.
Where are my Asian Americans who were loudly denouncing the anti-Asian sentiment that has been an outcome of COVID-19?
Where are my fellow Hispanic people who denounce the deportation and separation of families?
Activism should always be intersectional.
Black Lives Matter
If you’ve ever taken a history class in the US then you are 100% aware of the atrocities that Black people have faced ever since the transatlantic slave trade. Black lives matter emerged as a need to emphasize the protection of Black people.
Those who have had the luxury of ignoring this particular issue are the beneficiaries of structural racism, white people.
Why is saying “All Lives Matter” wrong?
“All Lives Matter” erases systemic inequality in the US.
It means that you refuse to acknowledge that America does not value all lives the same way.
No matter how progressive you think you are, you do see race. When you look at someone, (whether it is intentional or not), you judge that person immediately.
You make judgments without knowing a thing about the other person. Pretending that you don’t see race means that you haven’t had to.
Because you’re privileged! People who are discriminated against don’t get to wake up one day and decide that today is the day race doesn’t matter and ceases to exist.
And neither do you.
Saying that Black lives matter doesn’t mean that other lives don’t.
White privilege doesn’t mean that you’re rich, successful, or that your life is 100% worry-free.
White privilege is buying a pack of cigarettes from Cup Foods with a $20 bill and having the clerk not call the cops on you just because they think the bill is counterfeit. Or perhaps the store employee might report it to police, but you’ll be let go with a warning. And then you’ll live on to tell this story to your friends and family.
Something George Floyd will never be able to do.
White privilege is when a white person who is stopped by a cop lives on to tell the tale, while a Black person might not.
If you’re in a store, you have the privilege of not being followed around by an employee simply because you’re not Black.
As a white person, you can run or walk around any neighborhood and not get shot and killed.
Or perhaps you are able to play with a nerf gun, while a Black child can not.