Don’t Stay Silent, Even if You Don’t Know What to Say

I’m at a loss for words and that’s an affliction I typically don’t suffer from.

I’ve been seriously conflicted with how to approach this topic, as a white person, and as a creator with a voice. Frankly, I’m still unsure of what to say that will help, and I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing, but at the same time, I know saying nothing is not helping either.

As I opened Instagram (and quite literally anything on the internet) over the past few days, one thing remained clear: people were speaking up. I have chosen to come out and speak up against plenty of other issues that have nothing to do with food (depression, anxiety, etc), so why should I choose to stay silent about something as important as racial injustice? Because I’m white? Honestly, yes.

I always felt that I should only speak about things I have experienced myself, but you don’t have to be black to see the wrong in situations like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others.

It’s ok to not know how to help. It’s ok to not know exactly what to say. But it’s not ok to stand idly by and watch this pattern of racism, police brutality, and violence continue. I have been spending most of my days lately reading up on the Civil Rights Movement, the deaths of various people of color, as well as the history of protesting, rioting and looting. We know protesting (both peaceful and violent) has led to some positive outcomes over the years, but I, personally, can’t get behind violence to battle violence. I can’t get behind people hurting their own communities to send a message, because I feel it sends the wrong one. I think there’s danger in defining destruction as “expression”, and it is not the same as protesting. Protesting is an inalienable right, whereas rioting leads to vandalism, arson, injuries, sometimes even deaths. I will never understand how that promotes anything other than more fury, more violence, and more segregation.

Again, I don’t know what it feels like to be discriminated against because of the color of my skin or my religion (as hate-crimes can be about religion, too), and this is what has kept me quiet about it for so long: fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of speaking out on something I have no first-hand experience with, and fear of offending the ones who DO battle this, daily. But I can’t be quiet anymore. I may not understand your pain, but I understand pain. When I experience pain of the mental, physical, or emotional variety, I turn to others for help, and in the case of mental health, I talk about it in hopes they will spread the word and work with me to end the stigma. So that’s why I’m choosing to write about this too – in hopes that it will evoke clarity and inspire action in those who are reading it.

Personally, I think the answer lies in education, as well as kindness. Educate yourself and others, value it and teach those who don’t have access to it. Listen to each other and provide support when it’s needed. I’m doing what I can to educate myself and hopefully work towards a world where senseless killings become a chapter in a textbook one day, not weekly news headlines.

To that end, I’m not someone who walks around with my head in the clouds. I don’t believe the world will ever be COMPLETELY devoid of violence and hate, but we can work on ourselves and better our circumstances as much as we can to help eradicate it.

You can be there to listen, you can donate your time and/or money, and you can try to make changes in your own life that further the cause (i.e. support minority-owned businesses and don’t promote stereotypes).

I’m still literally afraid to hit publish on this post, but I know that if I don’t, I’ll be contributing to the problem and supporting the wrong narrative. And that would go against everything I just wrote. We have to work on this, together. I included some of the articles/docs I read below.

10 Steps Toward Bridging Our Painful Racial Divide

Divided We Fall – A Conversation about Racism in America

History.com – Protests

History.com – Riots

History.com – Watts Riots

America Riots

On Violence and Non-Violence – The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi

Riot or Resistance

George Floyd Protests

And if you want to donate to any of the below funds or campaigns, or simply read more on ways to help, I’ve added these links below too. There’s a ton more funds/petitions online obviously, and a quick Google search can help you find the ones you’re looking for.

Black Lives Matter

George Floyd Memorial Fund

Campaign Zero

ACLU

Black Visions Collective

NAACP

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