Another innocent black life is forever lost, and others in the black community have been (and still are) falsely accused of crimes they did not commit or falsely perceived as dangerous. All because of their skin color.
To say how disgusted and disappointed I am right now after hearing the news of George Floyd, which is yet ANOTHER case of police brutality against innocent black lives, is something I cannot put into a few words. As a person with white privilege, I decided it was time for me to face the issues I came across on social media head on, rather than scroll past them. Here are 11 things we must learn in times like these:
- Some people never EVER listen, no matter how honest you are. I've seen various people condemn the riots more than racism. While people are free to their opinion, plenty of them turn a blind eye to the opinions and experiences that do not align with their own. Not everyone will want to understand the hardships that people of color truly face. Not everyone will recheck themselves after you advocate for others.
- Black lives matter. Some still lean toward the All Lives Matter movement. There is a problem with it. All Lives Matter dismisses the hardships the black community faces. It's selfish, and turns the central focus back to oppressors, the privileged, and those not directly affected.
- White privilege is more valuable than we think (Yes, it exists). As a white woman, I can do various activities such as drive, walk outside, and shop, without giving it a second thought. My white skin will NEVER be the cause of hardships for me. The black community cannot do those things without thinking twice because their skin color causes people to falsely perceive them as dangerous or they are accused of crimes they did not commit.
- Education is NOT an entitlement to the privileged. Now for the record, if a black person chooses to share their experiences, they are more than welcome to. But that is not an obligation of them. There are so many resources to educate ourselves (that I will attach at the end), and books written by the black community themselves. It is valuable insight to hear firsthand experiences of the oppressed, but that is never owed to anyone.
- We MUST do better. I initially typed "We can do better" here, but after a second thought, I realized how much of a cop-out statement it is. While it may be true, it traps us into thinking we will do better, and then it doesn't happen. Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. said so himself: "And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again."
- Bystanders are just as guilty as the oppressors. I heard a similar quote several years ago regarding a topic not about racism. The concept STILL applies to racism. Staying silent IS a problem. Doing nothing IS a problem. And it clearly was in the murder of George Floyd and the continuous accounts of racism before and after.
- Stop invalidating others' experiences. Some are quick say things along the lines of phrases such as "It happens to white people too." Everyone experiences some form of hardships, but white people do not experience them due to their skin color. To say things like the phrase above further dismisses the experiences of the black community. Phrases like those are cop-out ways of supporting All Lives Matters over Black Lives Matter.
- Just saying we can do better isn't enough. Educating yourself is another outlet by reading books by black activists. Another outlet is to donate to organizations that support change such as the Minneapolis Freedom Fund. This help protestors get bailed out of jail after being falsely charged for using their right to protest, or the George Floyd memorial fund. Speaking out is another way. Use your social media to confront racism, and share the stories and updates you see that supports the Black Lives Matter movement. Signing petitions are a quick and FREE way to make your voice heard.
- If you have white privilege, sorry, but stop revolving this all around you. As stated in lesson seven, I've witnessed people turn these events around and make it about themselves. Some of these comments consist of things such as "This happens to white people too." I have experienced different hardships myself, but NOT ONE of them have EVER been due to my skin color. Stop making this about you.
- Tragedies bring out true colors. Several people have not said a word or done anything to help in response to George Floyd. A quote called "Silence is alliance" stuck out to me and it is so applicable here. Staying silent automatically puts you on the side of the oppressor. The racist comments have not stopped on various posts I have seen, either. Some people still don't recognize their privilege, or still make the topic revolve around themselves.
- Racism isn't just "the extremes." It isn't limited to police brutality. It dates back to as far as 1619. In 1619, a privateer ship called the White Lion had many black passengers on board to exchange them for "food and the 'best and easiest rates.'" White supremacist nations were formed in 1861. (Harriot 2020) A woman called the police on Christian Cooper after he told the woman to leash her dog in the park, and the woman falsely claimed that she was being threatened. Sadly, racism is EVERYWHERE. https://www.theroot.com/a-timeline-of-events-that-led-to-the-2020-fed-up-rising-1843780800
Black lives matter.
Resources for more information on education and donations are below: