I Stand with You

Over the last week, #BlackLivesMatter has taken social media by storm. I thought a lot about whether or not I wanted to write this article, but I decided I could not remain silent. As a 19-year-old privileged and educated white woman writing this, I recognize that I will never know what it is like to be a victim of discrimination of any form or police brutality because of the color of my skin. I was born into a life of privilege purely because of the fact that I am white. I am writing this article to hopefully educate others about recognizing their own privilege, as well as providing resources about ways you can stand in solidarity with and support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

I am not one to usually speak up or voice my opinion about a lot of things, but if there is any time to speak up, the time is now. I mourn for the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as all the other individuals whose lives were taken purely because they were people of color. It is impossible to sit by any longer and just watch more black lives being taken right from the palm of my hand. It is stunning to see how protests have swept across the entire United States, making Black Lives Matter one of the largest civil rights movements in history. I understand the riots and reports of looting are a very controversial topic, but I stand by Martin Luther King, Jr. who said “a riot is the language of the unheard.” You may be wondering what does vandalizing Target have to do with Black Lives Matter? I once wondered that myself. It’s terrible that property is being destroyed, but if you are more upset about that than the murders of black people, then how can you claim to be an ally? Try putting yourself in their shoes. Imagine if you had to endure centuries of discrimination and state-sanctioned violence because you were born as a person of color. How would you feel if you had to fear for your life every time you went for a drive, for a run, or were minding your own business?! Nelson Mandela once said, “when a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” Protestors have tried to remain peaceful, they tried to be respectful towards officers of the law. Protests would not turn violent or become riots if there was no reason for them to. Did they have another choice? They tried protesting peacefully but were told they were doing it wrong. They rioted and were told they were doing it wrong. But according to who? According to white people of privilege who do not recognize their privilege. People of color are willing to risk everything fighting for rights they should have been afforded from the beginning. It is not your choice to decide how an oppressed group protests when you have not been subject to the same injustices. It is the duty of those in positions of power and who are part of the larger systems that oppress people of color and instigate police brutality, to hold themselves accountable. Even if you do not actively participate in oppression or are not vocally racist, every single white person has benefited from the systemic oppression of African Americans; that may be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t matter who you are, no one has the power to decide another human being's worth, especially if their life is always at risk. 

All that being said, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must actively be anti-racist. How? You may ask. Use your platforms (E.g. Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, etc) to share content that will help educate others about the cause. Be prepared to receive comments from friends or family that may be arguing against your content, but having these uncomfortable conversations about race are the only way change will begin to happen. But re-posting and sharing media content is not enough; it should not end there. 

1. Support Black-owned businesses by sharing their content, buying for them, collaborating with them, and so much more! 

2. Participate in protests. I am 100% aware COVID remains a very real and present danger, but there are measures you can take to protect yourself and others from becoming infected.

  • What to Wear: Gloves, goggles, masks, nondescript/solid color clothing

  • What to Bring: Water for drinking & tear gas (hopefully it doesn’t come to that), snacks, cash/change & ID, wash cloth, ear plugs, protest signs, bandages & first aid supplies

  • Don’t Bring: jewelry, anything you don’t want to be arrested with, contact lenses, a cell phone without first turning off Face/Touch ID, going on airplane mode & disabling data

*Received this information from the Instagram page of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@aoc)

3. Sign petitions, text or call, and donate!

  • Not sure which petitions to sign or organization to donate to? Then click here

4. Educate yourself. Never stop learning about, reading about, or educating yourself about the cause. Watch movies, listen to podcasts, read articles/books. Educate yourself in whatever way you can.

  • To watch: 13th, The Black Power Mixtape, When They See Us, Freedom Riders, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, The Hate You Give, etc! 

  • To listen: Code Switch (@nprcodeswitch), 1619, New York Times (@nytimes), What You Can Do About Racism, The Business Life and Joy (@businesslifeandjoy), etc!

  • To read: How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson 

5. Do what is right because “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” - Desmond Tutu. 

Even when the protests stop, the social media posts slow, and the conversations aren’t as frequent, that DOES NOT mean the fight is close to being over. Until we see any real change made, I will remain consistent and persistent in the fight for black lives. I hope you will do the same.

#BlackLivesMatter #NoJusticeNoPeace