I have a tiny internet presence.
247 Facebook friends. 1800 Twitter followers–but based on the amount of action there, it could just as easily be three. I post to Pinterest and Instagram without notice or fanfare. My blog subscribers are in the single digits and one of them is my mother.
My most popular FB “reactions” come from photographs with my children in them.
Recently, a picture of my husband with our two youngest (see above) got 62 likes and four elusive hearts. I can’t claim to have summoned all that love on my own. I tagged my husband and his friends clicked.
A few years ago I started to write for the internet. My articles get scant attention. Which is mostly fine. At this point, my satisfaction comes from the act itself and not from reactions—some of which are asinine. Par for the course on the internet.
One of my most popular articles got just over 8,800 Facebook shares (which in the grand scheme is peanuts). But when I shared it on my own feed, it summoned just eight likes.
“Crickets,” as they say. All us non-celebs are used to that.
I get that people aren’t into my reality TV recaps, but what about when the topic is vital?
Essential? Of great import?
The topic was racism.
Just a tiny micro-section of its enormous reach. It was a call-out to white women (who I’m uniquely qualified to speak to since I am one, to stop being scared of black men.) I can see your eye rolls, those of you who believe in race cards. Those of you who are made guilty or uncomfortable when the topic is race. Or annoyed.
Annoyance is that tickle that urges you to wake up. To notice. To pay attention.
You are not required to care about me. Or about the guiding forces of my life.
But here they are:
- Spiritual Inquiry
- Social Justice
Number two includes all forms of love, especially familial, and at many points, these three are a singular braid.
However, the most vital force is number three–because it extends beyond my singular experience.
Because it connects me to the humans I don’t personally love.
I believe in boundaries and the insulation of my teensy family against the wicked ways of this world. Sometimes retreat seems like the healthiest option.
But we all know that when we close our eyes, shut our mouths and turn away, we allow hatred.
The silence that enables violence is tandem to its action.
The bare fact is that if you are not affected by discrimination then you are its enabler. And if you are not in the discriminated group, you profit from their oppression.
I do not care if I have annoyed you by mentioning the basic tenets of power structures.
The fact that my family is black is actually irrelevant to the fact that the most crucial aspect of American society is race—and its myriad intersections with discrimination systems and vast structures of inequality.
My point is that our personal, private loves have nothing to do with it.
Ethics devoted to humanity are clear and inviolable. They do not require personal connection, or truly, founts of emotional love.
They are free from love—though love attends them.
As you’ve heard, if injustice happens to anyone, it happens to us all.
If you would take offense to being killed during a traffic stop, then you must take offense when it happens to anyone at all.
(And this logic extends to the injustices across the world, not only to those at home.)
But we need to start with our own house.
Defending racism is especially immune to logic. It fails all logic. Which is why its defenders famously resort to hollow, imbecilic arguments. Why they reach for any other reason other than this one–this truth that guides racial bigotry: that white is superior.
You may not want to be righteous or political or to be an activist or to get involved.
Black activists advise that white allies focus on speaking to other whites. My primary potential reach for that is limited to those numbers I listed up top. My Facebook friends, you tiny collection of souls, most of you white, you are the sphere I speak to today. Hear me.
Below you will find a list of who I stand with, a list of my hearts.
My list cannot be inclusive and also specific. Which is why we need a ton of lists. A list of the humans you support (imagine the lists that could spring up in opposition: “Cops who kill Blacks,” “Men Who Rape,” “Supporters of Potatoes,” etc).
Make your list actually matter. ACTUALLY MATTER. Not compete with what matters. Who is on your list?
Here is mine:
- Black people. I recognize your history, respect your lived experience, support your rights, work to understand the systems of oppression you live under, and will fight for your total equality. I completely support you and want for you all rights, power and opportunity without opposition.
- Gays, lesbians, and anyone with non-mainstream sex and gender identity, however you define or claim it. Thank you for living in opposition to heteronormativity and gender conformity, and their violences and oppressions.
- Racial and ethnic minorities of every ilk—especially those with whom I am not culturally familiar. I stand for your equality and right to live any way you want without threat or fear.
- Anyone who identifies as feminist. Thank you.
- #BlackLivesMatter activists. Righteously fighting ignorance requires distinctive strength. Thank you.
You have just scrolled past my personal list of hearts.
Who is on your list? Who will you stand for?
Join your heart to mine. Out loud.
This essay originally appeared on Molly Pennington’s blog.
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