Why White People Should Not Be Silent About Racism

             So much has happened in the last few months, that it’s hard to imagine what could possibly come next. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many of us are now living in our childhood homes with our families again, which is a huge adjustment in itself. And in the last week, George Floyd’s tragic murder has sparked national attention, as it’s reflective of a larger issue of systemic racism within institutions like the police force. As we watch peaceful protests, riots, and abuse of power from law enforcement online and on TV, many of us are feeling angry, sad, and scared for ourselves and people of color in our communities. And we have a right to feel this way.

            George Floyd’s death is not the result of just one “bad cop,” which is evident in the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people whose lives have been taken by police brutality. According to the NAACP, African Americans are five times more likely to be incarcerated than White people. And the L.A. Times has reported that Black men and boys are 2.5 times more likely to die during an encounter with the police than White men and boys. This is not a new issue. George Floyd’s death doesn’t just call for the arrest of the police involved in his murder, but a complete transformation of law enforcement and the criminal justice system as we know it.

            As a result, many people have taken to social media and the streets to protest and inform others of police brutality and systemic racism. While many people are outspoken online about what petitions to sign to advance the arrest of Floyd’s killer and how to become an informed ally, others have remained silent.

            For many White people, having conversations about race online and within their families has never been a necessity. White people have the luxury of being aloof to their racial identity and its position in American society due to the privileges that come with it. The privilege to drive a car without fear of being pulled over because of their skin color. The privilege to apply for a job without fear of facing rejection because of their skin color. The privilege to exist in society without being murdered solely because of their skin color.

            White people never have to worry about something adverse happening to them because of their race. Thus, race is an aspect of a White person’s identity that has rarely needed to come up in conversation within White families. As a White person who grew up in a White family, race was never deliberated in my familial discussions. If anything, I was taught that race is something to be ignored and that we are all “one people.” And through being taught to ignore the racial differences between myself and others, I was also taught to ignore the privileges I have, and the disadvantages people of color have in America as a result. White people have been conditioned to ignore their skin color privilege so that they are complacent and indifferent to the suffering of people of color. White people have been conditioned to be silent.

            But, it is time to break this silence. Many of us have returned to our childhood homes and are perhaps living with parents, siblings, or relatives that deny racism within the police force and condemn the protests that are happening throughout America. To be truly anti-racist, it is our responsibility to be vocal about police brutality and its impacts on people of color. This may mean having conversations with our families that can feel “uncomfortable.” Nevertheless, the “discomfort” that comes with discussing racism among racially insensitive family members, is nothing compared to the fear and dread people of color experience when living their day to day lives. As White people, it is not acceptable to opt out of important conversations about racism. We must educate ourselves and those around us on how to contribute towards a safer and more equitable society for Black people.

Here are some books I recommend reading to become informed about Black peoples’ experiences and how to have constructive discussions about race:

Here are some links to petitions and donation resources to support Black lives now and always: