Disclaimer: I don’t speak for the Black community or any other Indigenous or POC community. Please listen to their stories! I’m a Chinese Salvadorian American who is straight and cisgender. I’m actively learning so I might get things wrong or not completely understand. Feel free to engage with me in dialogue!
TERM: BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, People Of Color
Right now, more than ever, don’t be silent about things that matter. All Black lives matter. Holding the police accountable for their actions matters. Speaking up matters.
Why Have You Stayed Silent?
By now, you’ve probably heard or seen the words “Silence is violence”. And it’s true. Language can cause harm and it can also inspire change.
We must hold the people in our lives who haven’t spoken out about racism accountable.
Why is it that you are comfortable enough to continue going on with your life as if though nothing has changed?
Is that not a privilege?
Are you silent because you think things won’t change?
Well, your silence only aids the oppressor. You perpetuate white supremacy and this system of oppression by not talking about racism.
Being willfully ignorant only continues to hurt BIPOC.
Talking about racism will never be easy, but it must be done. Starting the conversation is necessary if we want to create a future that dismantles anti-Blackness in our society.
Speaking up is more important than being comfortable in our silence.
Why Is Everything About Race?
“There was no concept of race or a white race before the need to justify the enslavement of Africans.
Creating a separate and inferior Black race simultaneously created the ‘superior’ white race: one concept could not exist without the other”
(Source: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo)
Race is a social construct.
“Craig Venter, a pioneer of DNA sequencing, observed, ‘The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.'”
“Genetic research has revealed two deep truths about people. The first is that all humans are closely related—more closely related than all chimps, even though there are many more humans around today.
Everyone has the same collection of genes, but with the exception of identical twins, everyone has slightly different versions of some of them.
Studies of this genetic diversity have allowed scientists to reconstruct a kind of family tree of human populations.
That has revealed the second deep truth: In a very real sense, all people alive today are Africans.”
(Source: National Geographic)
Why Should I Post About This Online?
Well, I already posted a black square or Black Lives Matter…
That’s a step forward! But is that all you’ve done?
No one is saying that you can’t continue to post your beach pics on Instagram and no one is saying that you can’t continue to enjoy your life, but that’s a privilege.
If you have a platform (we all have a platform if we use social media, regardless of whether we have 10 followers or 1 million), why not use it to do good in the world?
Share news stories, petitions, art, etc.
Keep your timeline diverse and raise awareness to reach those who might otherwise not know.
Our voice can only travel when we use it.
At the end of the day, I understand that posting online isn’t an action. You don’t have to post anything, but what actions are you taking in your daily life to be anti-racist?
Are you having tough conversations with friends and family?
Are you donating (if you are financially able to do so) to organizations? Are you working on being anti-biased and anti-racist?
How are you staying informed?
Do you keep up with the news, read books, or educational resources?
Checking in on your Black friends, co-workers, family, etc.?
Supporting Black businesses? Signing petitions?
Reaching out to your local government?
I Don’t Want to Offend White People
So you don’t want to speak out on racism because you’d rather not offend the white people in your life?
Does the comfort of white people mean more to you than Black people being murdered?
Talking about racism sure isn’t fun, it’s uncomfortable, but it has to be done.
White comfort shouldn’t be more important than the safety of BIPOC.
It’s All Too Negative For Me. I’m Stressed Out
If you’re actively working on trying to be anti-racist it’s important to take breaks.
But if you’re not, then take the time to reflect on why you’re prioritizing your need for social media “normalcy” over dismantling racial oppression.
Is your comfort more important than Black lives? Why are you willfully ignoring systematic oppression and racism?
Just because your feed has gone back to “normal” doesn’t mean that it’s the reality of what’s going on in the world.
If you’re tired of seeing anti-racism posts then you’re avoiding your responsibility to dismantle systematic racism.
You’re privileged if you find it “annoying”, “stressful” or “inconvenient” to scroll through info you don’t consider to be your problem.
As a society, we have moved way past the point where we can no longer not have tough discussions about race because “it’s too negative”.
Imagine how Black people feel after a long-standing history of slavery, segregation, and oppression.
If the topic of racism makes you uneasy, take a deep breath, and then talk about it.
I Don’t Know Enough To Speak Up
2020 might not be a great year, but guess what, a thing called Google exists.
If you don’t know enough to feel comfortable engaging in discourse regarding race, then Google it.
I’m Not A Racist!!!
Racism isn’t just the horrible stuff you hear on the news about wild Karens and white supremacists, it’s often undetected and subconscious.
And what can you expect!
This country was built off of racism. White people have long benefited from Black people. White privilege still exists whether you realize it or not.
Even if you identify as a “good person” you can still be racist.
Do you actively benefit from the oppression of BIPOC? No?
Has anyone ever called the cops on you for simply running or walking in your neighborhood?
What are the chances of you being shot and killed while sleeping in your own home by police?
Are you the dominant representation in media?
Have you had people question your citizenship or told you to go back to where you came from?
Are your actions perceived as those of your entire race?
You might not see yourself as a racist but you do actively benefit from a racist system built for your advantage because you’re white or white-passing.
Ever Been Called Out For Saying/Doing Something Racist?
How did you react?
Was your gut instinct to say, “I’m not a racist!”
“I have _____ friends! How can I be racist?!”
Did you cry or get extremely angry at the person calling you out?
Well, when people call you out for saying/doing something racist, instead of putting more effort into trying to convince others that you’re not racist, listen, and learn from that experience.
Own up to what you did, rather than try to deflect.
It’s 2020, we are done with putting white comfort over the discomfort and the lives of BIPOC.
At the end of the day, you might feel uncomfortable talking about race or how you did something racist, but that’s as much harm that will come to you, discomfort. While Black people could lose their lives.
Your opinions and perspectives about race do not hold equal weight to that of a BIPOC.
Instead of trying to take over the conversation, listen more than you speak. Then reflect and learn.
Working To Be Anti-Racist
Owning up to our internal racism and how we benefit from a system built off the oppression of Black people is the hardest step in working to be anti-racist.
But we can’t grow without getting over our discomfort.
If I say that “I’m a good person, I can’t possibly be racist”, then that lets me avoid accountability, and by seeing things this way I continue to perpetuate white supremacy.
Being anti-racist means that we can’t allow ourselves to be complacent. We’ll never arrive at a point where we are completely anti-racist. We need to continue to listen to BIPOC and be committed to life-long learning.