Privileged Ally
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Politics and Activism

Privileged Ally

So no, I will not shut up about Black Lives Matter.

Privileged Ally
Chloe Wen

As I was driving to work the other day at around 8 AM, I was listening to a radio talk show that was covering the Dallas shooting. Later that day, when I left work at around 6 p.m., the same talk show was still covering this shooting. Throughout the show, the police who apprehended the shooter were praised for their "clever and unique way of handling the situation" - the million-dollar tactic: bombing the shooter.

A few days before that, I was again, listening to this talk show. This was just after the Castle shooting. There was a 15-minute segment covering very basic, objective facts (somebody was killed) which ultimately ended with "but we'll wait for further details before we jump to conclusions about the officers."

Now, I'm no monster. I leave my sympathies with the loved ones of those who died in both shootings, truly and sincerely. But in the midst of the sadness, I cannot help but feel unsettled anger at the discrepancy not only in the way each of the situations were handled at their occurrences, but in the way the legacy of the latter event, among many like it, has become but another data point for a statistic we see on our phones, shake our heads at, then click the lock screen on so that it remains but another reminder at the back of our minds of a larger, flawed system we feel we are too insignificant to correct.

As someone who has never heard the "don't walk late at night or you might get shot" speech, or have been assumed to be, by a systemically racist society, a thug or a gangster or anything synonymous with "danger," I cannot voice my opinions on the Black Lives Matter movement from an underprivileged standpoint. And bluntly put, it's not my fight to lead, by the basic restriction that I am not black, and therefore I will never be able to truly understand the situation.

But what I can do is support a movement, and use my privilege to bring it validity as it is being discredited by outlier cases... (a side note of the overstated yet still somehow not universally acknowledged hypocrisy of the fact that one minority person's error is confirmation of a negative perception of a whole race, while one white person's error is an exception attributed to mental illness or astrological turmoil or an unbalanced chakra).

Because in the fundament of who I am - the fact that a Band-aid from Walgreens camouflages more than it contrasts my natural skin tone - means that I inherently have a privilege over a grand majority of black people. This is not to say I am better than them, but rather that the prejudices labeled on the foreheads of black people for the mere sake of being black, I will never experience.

I do look like one group of people: the reporters discussing the shootings. I, like the majority of America, can find a good amount of well-respected reporters of my race. And just like these reporters, I have a third-person limited perspective of the Black Lives Matter movement. It's rare to hear anyone on a credible news source who is black, who can openly speak up about the Black Lives Matter movement and be respected for his/her words. And sadly, it's rare to hear anyone speak up for the Black Lives Matter Movement on the news either.

However, by following the lead of so many reporters and remaining silent in the face of an oppression to which I am a by-stander, I am surrendering myself subservient to a dystopia where the dominant group's justification for actions of which any semblance of morals it so deliberately denies, is deemed incorrigibly correct. And as Desmond Tutu famously states, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

So no, I will not shut up about Black Lives Matter. Because the fall of another black life is in turn the rise of a racial-ethnic alienation which strengthens the divide between the oppressed and the oppressors. My silence is a pledge of allegiance to the latter side.

It's woefully optimistic to say I can make any sort of large-scale change without getting suffocatingly interweaved into the web of the military industrial complex, but a small scale impact is nothing short of highly doable. In making any change, it is important to examine the root of the issue: a mindset of prejudice, hatred, and fear towards black people. As a person of privilege, there are small things I can do in my community to break this mindset. It starts with watching micro-aggressions, mannerisms, slurs...becoming cognizant of an overwhelmingly negative mentality towards black people that I have subconsciously grown up with.

It should seem entirely intuitive and sensible that a black person be treated like a person, and not as a threat. A stereotype is only as strong as its reinforcement. To fight de jure segregation, one must protest laws, which produces tangible results. However, in a more treacherous battle, to fight de facto segregation, one must protest faulty norms, which produces a slow and intangible progress that manifests itself in the slightest of tangible results -- only seen in interpersonal relations that vary from social group to social group. Fighting de facto segregation is a battle that requires a joint effort between the underprivileged and privileged.

And finally, to end my thought, to anyone who says "All lives matter," I agree with you that all lives matter. This is exactly why I support the Black Lives Matter movement. Because the message of the movement isn't that black lives matter only, it's that they matter, too. And I will do my part to see that I can use my privilege and make that happen, one small social group at a time.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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