I want to take a minute to encourage any white people who are on the fringe with regards to speaking out about racism.
Let’s start with some facts:
- You are going to get it wrong a lot of times.
- You are going to be embarrassed.
- You are going to run into blatantly racist people that may be more educated than you and make better arguments against yours.
- You are going to lose friends and relationships with family members.
- You are going to make enemies.
- You are going to get eye-rolls.
- You are going to feel annoying for speaking up at times.
- Your anxiety is going to run rampant when you want to speak up.
- You are going to deal with uneducated opinions from people that just want to argue and fight.
- You will still have times where you choose silence in the moments you should have spoken up the most.
- You are still going to have racist thoughts.
- You are still going to speak and act out based on your biases without even thinking about it.
- You are still going to play a part in perpetuating the racist system that this country was built on regardless of how much you feel you have liberated yourself from your bigoted beliefs.
- You will not get a “pat on the back” for doing any type of anti-racism work, nor should you expect one.
- You will have People of Color challenge you to change your mindset and everything you believe in, even when you feel you have come to a place where you think you are making progress.
… and yet you need to know that everything I spoke about in that list and everything you might experience (and that I have experienced out of that list), is and always will be a luxury that is heavily reinforced and padded by our privilege.
Doing the right thing at all times should not be rewarded. Don’t look for anyone to tell you that you are “doing a good job.” Don’t expect to be praised for your efforts when, at the bare minimum, you are doing what someone should be doing if they are trying to be a decent human being.
Where’s the encouragement?
The encouragement is right here: you have the opportunity to plant seeds of change in your own life and the lives of others. That alone should be enough.
Standing up, speaking out, and taking action isn’t supposed to be easy or fun. Still, the simple fact is that if all of your hard work and perceived hardships only help challenge ONE person’s outlook, that person can then plant new seeds, and significant growth can begin to occur on a larger scale.
Doing these things seems like a daunting task, but noticing injustice and naming it regardless of the perceived hardships we may endure, is the very bare minimum that we can do.
SO START TODAY.
Post that thing you know is going to make your friends or family members angry, but that you know deep down in your soul that you must speak up about because the situation is unjust. Have a conversation with your dad when he says the same dumb racist joke for the 50th time when you are all at dinner. Tell your cousin their Confederate Flag is racist and not heritage. Verbally admit to your racist thoughts and micro-aggressions.
End your cowardice and your silence on matters that empower white men to take the life of innocent Black men like Ahmaud Arbery.
Previously published on “Equality Includes You”, a Medium publication.
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