Sometimes hearing thoughts through someone else’s words starts a dialogue, evokes ideas, or just makes you think about the world from a different viewpoint.
Olivia Santiago, my (step) daughter, wrote today’s blog post because I thought it was important to look at the world through a different perspective, through the eyes of someone who hadn’t gone through the Civil Rights movement—and I was right. Olivia’s words are thoughtful, provocative, and positive. Most of all her piece is a call to action that is done in a way that inspires. Thank you, Olivia.
It’s been a dark and heavy week. Just as many cities started to see a glimmer of hope after 12 weeks of quarantine being lifted, we’ve snapped back to the reality of the systemic, institutional racist society we live in.
As an American (and a human) I am outraged. I am horrified. I am angered. I am saddened.
In the past week, we’ve watched yet another innocent unarmed black man be murdered at the hands of a police officer. We’ve watched fellow American citizens be tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets while exercising their constitutional right to speak out against racism and the senseless killing of George Floyd. This is unacceptable and we must do better.
I had the opportunity to take part in a discussion with a group of black colleagues. It was incredibly raw and emotional. I didn’t say a word—not that I should have; this was my time to listen. I listened as they candidly spoke about what this all means to them, the terror, injustice, and negative psychological damage of simply existing as black.
I’d like to think of myself as a tolerant and accepting person. But as a white person, I didn’t know how badly I needed to hear my colleagues. And I mean really hear them. It was hard but it was one of the more powerful and eye-opening experiences of my life. And I'm honestly grateful for it.
I will never know what it’s like to be followed in a store unnecessarily, what it's like for someone to cross the street when I’m walking toward them, or fearing for my life when a cop stops me. I can only imagine the deep and distinct pain endured by black Americans. What it must do to a person to live in that type of fear every day blows my mind. And why? Solely for the color of their skin? It’s wrong. It’s just so wrong. We’re all part of the same race—the human race.
There is a serious problem in this country. We have a system that holds black people down. Change requires us to listen and to have those hard and uncomfortable conversations about race and acknowledge our white privilege.
So, this is a direct message to the allies reading this: Allies, we have a responsibility. We need to advocate and push for more because we all have a role to play in this fight against racism. This is a rare opportunity to really listen to our black family, friends, our colleagues. While it’s nice to relate and empathize, now is not the time to insert personal experiences into this narrative because it’s not about us. We must educate ourselves about the impacts of racism and intolerance. Ignorance is NOT bliss. We don’t need a social media following or a blog to have a platform. If we have a voice, we must use it. Sign petitions, call our representatives, donate money or time, and vote. Keep supporting after the outrage and attention has died down. This is also a time to speak with our white friends because we need to address what is going on, hold each other accountable, speak out against injustice, and unite. Whatever we do can be personal to what works for us—but being silent is not an option.
There are SO many resources out there. There is endless information at the tips of our fingers with a quick Google search. While these don’t even scratch the surface, here are a few recommendations to get us started to help educate ourselves.
Legal organization fighting for racial injustice
Provides legal assistance whenever civil liberties are at risk
Ensures fair elections and combats voter suppression
Provides resources for black/brown communities, including hiring defense attorneys for anyone arrested protesting police brutality
Supports the analysis of policing practicing, researches to identify solutions to end police violence in America
Commits to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on black women and girls
Resources to Read
So You Want to Talk About Race
Me and White Supremacy
Layla F. Saad
Podcasts to Listen to
1619 (NY Times)
Pod Save the People (Crooked Media)
Code Switch (NPR)
The Diversity Gap
End police violence in America. Tell your mayor to adopt 8 can’t wait.
Vote. Make sure you’re registered. Make sure your family and friends are registered.
Volunteer your time to help others get registered and help voter turnout. (Can be done all virtually!) Check out their “Adopt a State.”
Find out your state and federal representatives stances and tell them to pass legislation immediately to end police violence.
Support black business owners
A quick Google search can show you local restaurants, stores, even brands of food, health, and beauty products
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