To my white friends that have stayed silent during this fight for the fundamental reordering of society in whichBblack lives matter… You may be silent, but I see you, I hear you, and I am hurt.
Privilege is thinking something isn't a problem, because it's not a problem for you. You've been posting your selfies, your breakfast, your dog, the beach, and your video diary about enjoying the slight reopening of your state. But to me, all I see is you pretending that there is no problem just because it doesn't affect you.
I live for the idea that from knowing comes caring and from caring comes change. I understand that you haven't had to live life as a Black person in America. I understand that it can be uncomfortable when you are being challenged. What I don't understand is how, when I am posting a ton of resources to help make it easier for you to navigate what's happening while our country is in upheaval and we're begging for people to listen to and support us, you can still say silent. I know you see me, and I see that you still choose to stay silent.
Privilege is thinking something isn't a problem, because it's not a problem for you.
To me, it reveals a lack of empathy. Not caring enough to dig deeper, to research, and to ask questions. It sends a message that you truly don't care about me as you say you do. And that is not only insulting, it is downright hurtful.
I reflect in my own way of choosing to be an ally. I love and care for my friends and some of my friends are part of the LGBTQ community. In 2015 when they were protesting for their right to love who they love, I stood beside them and supported the movement. Not because I am gay or because I understand that struggle firsthand but because I care so much for my friends. I wanted to make sure that they had the same opportunities as I do: to marry the person they love.
So now that I'm in need of an ally and the friends who I've worked with, brunched with, and shared stories with don't care enough about me to fight for equality for Black lives in America. It hurts.
Because if you are white, it makes you the system. You have an overwhelming position of power in this country. You benefit from social structures that are tilted in your favor. I understand saying that makes you uncomfortable, but to be honest your comfort is just simply not more important than Black people's lives.
You don't have to be a racist to be at fault for our country's lack of progress. You just have to be complicit in the pure ignorance that breeds racism whenever you see it. For as long as forever, silence has been the true enabler of injustice in the world, and it will always be.
Because if you are white, it makes you the system... I understand saying that makes you uncomfortable, but to be honest your comfort is just simply not more important than Black people's lives.
I want you to understand that you don't have to be Black to know how to help. You might be worried about making a mistake, phrasing something incorrectly, or being yelled at, and I understand that worry. But, being yelled at for making a mistake is not worse than being choked to death. It's not worse than being shot in your own home. It's not worse than being killed for something you were never even guilty of.
The troubles you might face in speaking up about this are nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the actual trouble of wondering if you might die simply because of the color of your skin. I am challenging you to educate yourself. Watch documentaries like 13th, watch shows like When They See Us, read books like Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.
I want you to understand that you don't have to be Black to know how to help.
Reach out to me and know that it's okay to change your mind. Know that it's okay to feel lost and confused. Know that it's okay if you don't quite understand how much privilege you have and how that came about. But what is not okay is when you call me a friend but stay silent. Because I see you, I hear you loud and clear, and I won't forget it.
This article was originally published June 5, 2020.
WRITTEN BYAndreia Gibau