I am privileged. I come from a middle class background among the Amish in central Pennsylvania. As such, any attempts by me to "solve" societal issues such as racism and police brutality should elicit only eye rolls. I'm so disconnected from such serious issues that I can't even begin to know the right way to approach them.
That's why whenever the popular movement of #blacklivesmatter resurfaces, I'm hesitant to speak about it. Sure, I can read the stories of police brutality, I can grieve for the innocent lives lost and I can feel outraged. However, I sit from such a place of privilege that I could simply choose to never hear or think about the issue again.
Part of the idea of "white privilege" is that it is incredibly easy to ignore issues like race-relations because they simply don't impact us in a way that we can easily see. In our suburban middle-class neighborhoods, we feel an emotional distance between us and the violence that plagues our own country.
However, distance does not justify silence. No matter how far away we may be from the issue, it does nothing to change the fact that people in our country are tragically losing their lives, and that it is a direct reflection of our racist society.
Perhaps the biggest way we can help the movement is to help others realize just how real the problem of racism in America is. We live in a country where black people are given far longer sentences for the same crimes as white people. We live in a country where racial profiling is still alive and well. We live in a country where a presidential candidate posted white supremacist propaganda against black people and received very little criticism.
We live in a country where we have systematically discriminated against people of color since the dawn of our nation.
And yet, our response when we see the unjust deaths of black men is to say: "No, that couldn't have been racially motivated."
I am not saying that all police officers are racist, or even that every person who is tragically killed by a police officer is a victim of a racist crime. What I am saying is that we can not turn a blind eye to the racial violence that is happening right in front of us.
What I do know is that in our little middle-class privileged bubbles, we all have a choice. We have a choice to turn a blind eye to racism. We have a choice to minimize the lives lost as much as we can, and act like the problem isn't really a problem at all.
On the other hand, we can choose to know and understand that there is a very real and very serious discussion about racism taking place in our society. We can choose to listen to those who are struggling. We can choose to help in whatever way that we can.
I hope that you make the right choice.