“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu
I’ve struggled to find the words to say. I know that as a writer, Christian, and human being I’m called to speak up for my brothers and sisters facing heartbreaking injustices in this country. But it’s hard to find words that are genuine and haven’t already been said.
But I’ve given myself some time to pray and think on this topic, and I’ve come up with some points I want to share with you all.
Say their names.
George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor.
This has been said before, but we need to remember that behind this movement are lost lives, suffering families, and heartbroken communities. Protests lose their focus if we forget the names behind them.
This is more than a political battle.
What’s happening in this country goes beyond being a Democrat or Republican—these are human rights we’re fighting for.
And sure, each party has a different approach to ending to these injustices. But I think that most people on both sides can agree: racism = bad.
So before you blame the opposite party, remember that most of them want justice, just like you—they just have different ideas of what justice looks like.
You don’t have to be active on social media to make an impact.
I bring up the quote from Tutu again: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
This quote has led millions to post photos, news reports, and infographics on their social media accounts. But it’s okay to be neutral on social media. You can be active in this movement without being active on Facebook—other ways of making an impact are having ‘hard’ conversations with those opposed to this movement, creating poetry/art/music, attending riots and protests (and yes, there are peaceful protests), and to my white friends, recognizing your own privilege. If social media isn’t your thing, you aren’t obligated to use it as long as you find a different outlet.
Stop asking black people about what you can do.
Just a few days ago, the New York Times wrote an article titled, “Black Journalists are Exhausted.”
They’re exhausted from writing about the never-ending deaths of their brothers and sisters. They’re exhausted from all the phone calls, research, and interviews they have to do on this topic.
And personally, I think they’re tired of being being put on the hot seat by white people who don’t know how to handle these times. It’s not a black person’s job to inform you on what to do or how to behave—you are responsible for your behavior and actions.
Do your own research, educate yourself, and look at the needs in your community. Flip the roles in your head: “If I were black, what would I want to happen to bring an end to this?”
Instead of singling out your black friends and asking them how you should act, start asking for their perspectives. Hear their stories. And as their perspectives are revealed to you, the right steps to take will be revealed.
Having black friends doesn’t make you non-racist. Living in a diverse neighborhood doesn’t make you non-racist.
Sure, these things do help in combatting racial violence. But if racism were purely external and could be solved by integration, it would’ve ended when segregation was outlawed in 1954.
Racism is INTERNAL—a way of thinking, a superiority complex, a pattern of believing. Before you write yourself off as innocent because you have a black coworker, check your heart to see if you’re using that person as a shield.
It’s a joint effort.
I feel deep sorrow for the systematic racism I’m a part of because of my skin color. Although I have not contributed to the oppression begun by my white ancestors, I still carry the burden of a systematic sin.
I can’t apologize on behalf of all white people, though—not my family, not my friends, not the police, not the government. But I hope those people will take it upon themselves to apologize as well. And I hope that persons of color can accept our apologies, too.
Let’s work together in these heartbreaking times. Let’s listen to each other. Let’s stop looking for the best quote to put on our Instagram story and start figuring out ways to bring real change. Let’s internalize all the photos and news reports, educate ourselves, and give ourselves time to mourn. And let’s figure out how to make a difference together.
For more ways to contribute (petitions, donations, protest locations, etc), visit this website.