White Silence Is A Form Of Violence

White Silence Is A Form Of Violence

Silence, inaction, and indifference to violence towards minorities are killing us, too.
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In the wake of the recent event that took place in North Portland, the discussion regarding white liberalism and racism has grown louder. Three white men were stabbed, two fatally wounded, on a MAX train while defending two young women of color who were being verbally attacked by a known white supremacist. Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Ricky John Best stood up against racism and fascism, and tragically lost their lives. While they and the young man who survived, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, have been declared heroes, many have questioned how “safe” it is to try to defend vulnerable communities, such as people of color.

I immediately found this troubling when I saw an article come across my Twitter feed, claiming it was unsafe to do what Meche, Best, and Fletcher did. I’ve heard numerous discouragements from “getting involved” in situations that have the potential to become dangerous, but at the time I didn’t quite latch onto the fact that silence was simultaneously being encouraged. Even in passive situations, people are often discouraged from pushing back against problematic rhetoric or talking about politics all together: “Is it worth it to start this argument?” you may be asked if you try to say something when that one family member decides to drop the n-word or makes derogatory comments about women at the reunion. There is a constant pressure to avoid conflict, which usually results in allowing racism, sexism, etc. to continue. It is beneficial to no one — aside from white supremacy — to sit back and watch racism flourish right in front of you.

It is important to consider your safety and possible consequences, of course, as you gauge the severity of a situation. You should understand exactly what you may be risking when involving yourself in social justice, and in what capacity you are able to act. For instance, if I attend a protest, I understand that there is a possibility of being arrested, or hurt by police, or just another civilian. When I engage in political discussions with right-leaning friends or family I understand that the outcome may be emotional trauma or the loss of a relationship. I have seen and experienced the consequences of getting involved and doing the right thing, and have decided that in certain situations, I am okay with those consequences. Others have done the same in order to defend me in the past.

Lately, the discussion regarding whether or not to stand up for what’s right appears to promote silence and complacency among privileged groups. People who lose their lives standing up to white supremacists are labeled heroes while those who escape unscathed are greeted with disdain. Then, the media has the audacity to discourage people from getting involved in these situations for their safety. So, we honor those who put their bodies on the line by thanking them then telling others to not do the same, or criticizing them for confronting violent views (and surviving). What better way to promote fear of taking a stand against racism and subsequently...silence? And all with little, to no, consideration for those hurt in the first place — such as the girls on the train.

Minorities from various communities are forced to put our lives on the line daily, simply because we exist. The two young women of color (at least one being Muslim as well) who were verbally attacked on that MAX were doing nothing wrong. The only reason Jeremy Christian sought to harm them was because they were minorities. Even those who assimilate in an attempt to gain some sense of security and belonging are never truly safe. People of color will always be seen and treated as “others” by the majority.

Whether you realize it or not, silence contributes to the violence minorities experience. It certainly does not help us, but it does permit the actions to continue. It sends a message to everyone around you that you are okay with what is happening — or too scared to challenge it. Either way, those holding these harmful beliefs and committing acts of violence are emboldened. Why wouldn’t they be when the “leadership” of the country encourages them and few dare to stop them? Minorities fight for our rights every day; we have been discussing, challenging, etc. for years. Those from the majority, from privileged positions must be willing to do their part if they do really believe equality and equity.

As a form of prejudice and systemic or institutional oppression, “racism is a white problem.” Because of this, white people must also take part in taking apart the system that works to keep people of color in a second-class citizenship status. Standing in solidarity will never be enough. There must be proactive and reactionary actions to injustices.

A part of dismantling an oppressive system challenging it whenever possible. This doesn’t mean everyone must always be willing to engage in discourse with anyone who disagrees with you. There are situations where it will be nothing but a fruitless debate, but you can still let it be known where you stand. Not all of us have the luxury of being able to avoid politics and discourse when it is convenient to us. Our existences are politicized on every front and we live in a society that makes it difficult to voice our grievances. It’s important for those with privileges to speak up, whether it’s to push back against an offensive remark, defend a minority being harassed, or just begin a conversation with other privileged folks where you can elevate the voices of marginalized groups (It should always be to elevate the voices of minorities). Don’t allow for it to continue in front of you.

Yes, it can be risky and dangerous to fight facism, but aren't the consequences of allowing it to grow far worse? If you truly believe in bringing an end to racial inequality and inequity, you must be willing to take action in whichever ways you can. Inaction will only assist oppressors and their agendas. Silence is akin to and often the same as indifference, and indifference to violence is killing us too.

Cover Image Credit: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

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A Letter To The Tomboy I Used To Be

To that girl with the baseball hat, board shorts, and grass stains, thank you.
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To the tomboy I used to be,

Thank you so much for making me the strong, beautiful, determined, and badass girl I am today. I am proud of who you've become. It is because of you that I can stand on my own two feet. It is because of you that I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

You were never easy to deal with. Mom and Dad had a lot to handle growing up. It was Dad who had to fight for you to be able to play boys' baseball. It was Mom who had to stand up to the boys that were mean to you for playing a boys' sport. It was both of them who had to cart you around to all of your games and practices, because playing one sport a season was just not enough. It was Mom who had to wash your clothes endless times, because the grass and dirt stains would never come out the first time. Don't ever forget who helped you become who you are.

Your attitude and thought process is very different from that of most girls. You grew up dealing with your problems through wrestling or fighting. Pettiness was not something you could deal with. Your anger came from losing a game, not drama with girls. You didn't understand why girls fought, or were so mean to each other, and to this day, you still don't understand it. You are different. You aren't like most girls by any means, which can be difficult for you, even now. You are so much tougher. You think differently. You are determined.

I love who you turned into. You are so strong; you handle everything with such passion and grit, that I can't help but thank you. Thank you for pushing yourself, and for not letting anything or anyone get in your way. The boys were mean sometimes, and the girls talked about you, but that never fazed you. That chip on your shoulder only made you strive even harder for greatness.

Thank you for making me unique. Thank you for making me extraordinary. Thank you for making me, me.


Love,

Amy

Cover Image Credit: tumblr

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The Internet’s Infatuation With 'Soft Boys' Needs To Stop

Quick, (before he ghosts you), let me know if this boy sounds familiar!

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You know he exists. Your girlfriends have told you whisperings. He's lurking nearby. It's…the softboy. The one who civilly slides into your DMs because he would love to hear your thoughts on philosophy, literature, or his vinyl collection.

Okay, sorry, backing up. In order to understand what a softboy is, you must know some history. Internet 101 is in session. No need to silence your cell.

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In the past few years, society has finally come up with a word for a male sl*t: a f*ckboy! In case you don't know this slang, a f*ckboy is a male who is strictly into sexual relationships facilitated by manipulation. You know, the kind of shallow guy who sends unprompted pictures of his genitals. He is typically seen with "his boys" because bros come before h*es. A f*ckboy will tell you that "you're not like the other girls"; this is supposed to be a compliment because he doesn't have any respect for other girls. Quick, (before he ghosts you), let me know if this boy sounds familiar!

Well, ladies and gents, we have a new monster on our hands. Or, rather, the same monster in a sheepskin disguise: the softboy!

The softboy Internet craze is a new trend, created as a seeming pendulum swing from the overt dirt-baggery of the infamous f*ckboy. Finally, American culture has a backlash against obvious jerks! …Only to be replaced by the same guy, but this time, in Doc Martins.

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They are imitations of the adorkable, lanky white boys of the month on Twitter such as Noah Centineo, Cole Sprouse, Timothee Chalamet, and Troye Sivan – the guys who are not afraid to express their feminine side in their emotional art. Young people adore them for their androgynous beauty and progressive sweetness. In turn, normal guys impersonate these famous people in hopes of receiving that same adoration from women.

However, what these imitators, these softboys, lack is the authenticity of the guys they're trying hard to look like. It's a façade to get in others' pants. He regurgitates whatever you want to hear and will use that to sleep with you before he moves on to "deal with his journey as a flaneur". Whether you're dealing with a f*ckboy or a softboy, they're both manipulating others based on what they think they like. And manipulation is wrong.

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Let me argue further, whereas an out-and-proud f*ckboy will wear a tank-top and listen to SoundCloud rappers, the softboy prefers a thrifted sweater while listening to indie music and calling all other tunes "trash". You know, because he is sensitive.

Whereas a f*ckboy half-jokes about being a meninist, the softboy respects women too much to pay for anything, ever. He calls himself a feminist, utilizing the label to his advantage. The softboy knows he's not going to make any girl swoon by being a total misogynist, so he plays the antithesis. But as soon as the situation gets ugly, he will show his real philosophy, with his patronizing voice calling you a derogatory name when something doesn't go his way.

Everything a softboy does is a ploy, (so convincing, that he may even believe these things about himself). He completes this performance to demonstrate to you that he's the good note in the noise. And that's why you have to be wary of him.

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