Finding the Words for Anti-Racism as a White Ally

Stand Up & Speak for Social Justice Sometimes there are no words. When others seem to be speaking up so clearly, forcefully & articulately. Sometimes it feels like there are no words. With all of this discussion of white privilege, we’re beginning to see & recognize the ways that we’ve been given an upper hand […]

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Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash
Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash

Stand Up & Speak for Social Justice

Sometimes there are no words.

When others seem to be speaking up so clearly, forcefully & articulately.

Sometimes it feels like there are no words.

With all of this discussion of white privilege, we’re beginning to see & recognize the ways that we’ve been given an upper hand in life. But as you see resounding on protest signs & in captions, there is no full understanding. I have not stood in the shoes of those who have been & are currently being oppressed, so how can I fully comprehend.

I have not felt the fear pounding in my heart based on the color of my skin.

As suggested at this time, staying informed & staying educated is top of mind. But it’s not just here in a reactive moment can we be instruments of change. It’s not just in response to another unnecessary & uncalled for murder do we feel the need to step up into action.

It’s in our everyday lives that we enact change.

After the dust settles from these protests & the riots have ended… What do we do to carry on our fight for justice? How do we find the words?

As someone who used to be heavily involved in politics, I feel as if I’ve been an ostrich – head stuck in the sand, ignoring the outside world to focus on building a business around the idea of isolation. Around how much work I can put in to see an outcome. That is one of the marks of my white privilege.

But with the rude awakening of coming back into the fold of current events, I can no longer stand silent or unaware. Ignorance is not bliss, but a denial of what makes up our community – what makes us human.

To have empathy & compassion for each other independent of circumstance.

We are each born into varying amounts of privilege – color, economics, location, family, environment, technology, decade – it’s about how we navigate that privilege that determines our path. It’s the words we use each passing day that define us.

Sitting in a place of privilege of any kind while ignoring those who continue to suffer is not where I can live anymore, it’s not a value I wish to maintain. It’s not the words I want to hold in my mouth.

We each see & feel & embody color in different ways. Our heritage, our culture, our community will create how we experience the world & how we show up in it. And it’s not about NOT seeing that color – it’s not about NOT recognizing the differences.

It’s about seeing that difference, embracing & celebrating it.

It’s about seeing black, brown, white, yellow, tan, olive, or freckled bodies, minds & hearts as beautiful. In recognizing the beauty in our difference of shape, skin color, & ability to live & breathe a certain sense of connectedness to each of our individual pasts but shared history of evolution.

We have to ask ourselves:

  • So how do we stand up?
  • How do we show up for each other?
  • Through protests?
  • Through trending social media posts?
  • By rioting & burning buildings?
  • Through policy change & political advocacy?
  • Through donating financially?
  • By sharing a message & educating?

I think for each of us it will be different, as long as we commit to staying standing.

We will move through the stages of grief & upset over this series of events, not just this past week of George Floyd & continued police brutality, but from much further beyond that – reaching into our shared history to the many lives who have been lost for reasons unknown to me. Reasons of the ego, of pride, need for power, learned hostility, natural aggression, jealousy, fear of the other, or a need for control…

As we feel this outrage, we have to express ourselves, our emotions & continue to speak up against the prevalent injustice. We will find the words.

The feelings of upset, anger, grief, frustration, confusion, fear. We have a desire to help, but why now when it feels like it’s almost comically too late. Why now you have to ask? Why now do we barrage black people with – how can I help you? How can I support you?

Why not three weeks ago, why not when the deaths of other unnamed black men & women were brutally killed over the years.

We have many in black leadership & those with a platform speaking out about how we can get educated & stay in the know about supporting people of color at this time.

But the change happens internally. It happens when we each take the time to reflect on how we show up for each other. How we acknowledge the biases we all have & move forward without feeling above it all.

How we choose to stand –  not because there is an online pressure & call for it, but because we know it’s the right thing to do. Because we are so convinced in our hearts that all humans are granted the same equal rights.

It happens when we KNOW WHY we need to stand up & FOR WHAT we are standing up.

We have to bring conscious awareness to our actions, our choices, our language & the way we interact with others. With white privilege, we have taken so many things for granted these past several hundred years.

Learning about the conscious approach & calculated choices black people have had to make around avoiding certain situations or acting a certain way in fear of being bound down literally & figuratively in wrongly accused circumstances… it makes me realize just how far we have to go.

Although maybe I am not “directly affected,” we are at war in our community. So we ARE ALL impacted.

We are together tearful, angry & energized to create change.

We will find the words, create them, make mistakes with them, & continue to challenge the systemic injustice bred into our country with them. Our words are powerful, our thoughts are influential & our actions will continue to see that of raising up the dishonored & oppressed in our nation.

It’s time to step into the accountability, motivation to change & showing up every day in our lives to accept, galvanize & encourage people of all color to take their seat at an equitable table for their substantial, impactful voices to be heard loud & clear for the rest of time.

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