Silence born from fear is not an excuse
This post has been weighing heavily on my heart and my conscience for a few days and I have felt very challenged that I haven't said anything online about what is happening in our world right now. With the critical focus and attention on #blacklivesmatter, I've been silent. And that has been wrong!
Recently I saw a post on social media that said: "Silence Favours The Oppressor". My initial response was one of defence. I thought to myself, I am NOT favouring the oppressor in this situation. But when I sat back and unpacked that post, and the comments that flowed from it, I began to understand the meaning of it.
Why was I being silent on the subject?
In my mind I wasn't being silent, in conversations with my family, I wasn't being silent, but why hadn't I voiced those words in my online community.
The answer is simple...fear!
I was afraid of not saying the right thing or more realistically, of saying the absolute 'wrong' thing.
So I started to listen to the dialogue in the online communities I spend time in, I started to watch videos, read articles, listen to podcasts because I wanted to educate myself on the issue...
I thought I knew the issue, but really, I've been ignorant and completely uninformed.
I had heard the term White Privilege before, but until recently, I had disregarded it as irrelevant to me. The term, in my mind, equated to racist, white supremacists...not to me and my family.
I've come to understand that I couldn't have been further from the mark on this - I have white privilege. It's not up for debate and whether or not it makes you feel uncomfortable, and it certainly did me, it is a fact!
I watched an interview with Ibram X. Kendi and there was one part that stood out to me...no, correction, it shook me to my core; he said:
It is critical for white people to stop denying their racist ideas, to stop denying the way that policies have benefited them, to stop denying their racism; and to realise that the heartbeat of racism itself, is denial and the sound of that heartbeat is 'I'm not racist".
And oh how the understanding that came from those words deflated me...it deflated my ego, it deflated the internal dialogue that I had that I'm not racist, that I support POC, that I would jump to action in defence of their rights as quickly as I would in defence of my own.
Because I was then faced with the reality of my inaction, of my silence.
I hadn't done that at all...and while my silence was fed from fear, fear wasn't reason enough to be silent.
So I won't be silent.
This quote says it perfectly - "In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist". Angela Davis
The term 'anti-racist' is not about being passive, it is a call to action, and I want to take action.
I may say the wrong thing but I'm continuing to educate myself, I'm continuing to listen, learn and ask...I'm trying to do better, to be better.
We all have an opportunity; the opportunity to educate ourselves on how we can avoid contributing to the cycle of systemic racism, to use our voices in support, use our platforms (whatever they may be) to influence change.
This IGTV episode by Ivirlei Brookes taught me so much. She shares the steps we can all take to be an ally; and they are challenging, confronting, but so good. Her video, White Women who Truly Want to Help: Here's How, is a MUST WATCH.
This isn't about all lives mattering...this is about how #blacklivesmatter #aboriginallivesmatter #indigenouselivesmatter and I am 100% committed to becoming a vocal, active ally and not a passive bystander who shakes my head at the state of things but remains silent out of fear.
As Martin Luther King, Jnr said, "there comes a time when silence is betrayal" and that time is now.
Here are some additional resources that I've used to educate myself further; I'll keep adding to this list as I find more, and I invite you to share any resources you have found with me too.
Rabbit-Proof Fence - Stan
Just Mercy - Netflix
When They See Us - Netflix
13th - Netflix & YouTube