2020 has been a shitshow. There is no need to recount what has happened up to this point, but 2020 also has been one of the most eye-opening, life-changing and evolving years in my lifetime. The year began with fires raging in Australia and the United States attacking Iran’s military. Currently, in September, there is an ongoing pandemic, racial and social protests in light of police brutality and a monumental Presidential election. Not to mention that now California is literally on fire. There is a lot going on. How are you not insane?
My Instagram went from a place where I posted pictures of myself to now a place where I attempt to learn and educate others about social issues. My twitter was primary where I’d tweet all about Taylor Swift (I still do), to me now questioning what is happening. My Facebook was where I’d share life updates— now, I share petitions and funds to raise money for causes. With experiencing all of these changes, I want to take the time to voice my thoughts I’ve had since March on race, protests, and the police in the best way I can: through writing.
George Floyd. You know his name. You know what happened. I remember seeing the video of the tragic incident and I thought, Why is the officer’s knee on his (Floyd) neck for that long? I will admit, the first time I saw the video, I was not thinking about the racial implications, but I was simply thinking about the harm. Then when protests upstarted in Minneapolis where this took place, it was only then that it hit me that this wasn’t just about police brutality (which is still imperative), but the continuous racial profiling that goes on every single day for people of color. When I realized my ignorance of the issue, I was in shock. “How did I not see this for what it is?” Well, the simple answer is because I’m white. Since I am white, I am not worried about anyone being racist to me, rather that would be through verbal exchange, interaction with other people, or anything in between. As a result, sometimes I don’t see the obvious signs of racism. Floyd’s death changed that. I started really reading, listening to podcasts and watching anything I could in order to not only really be knowledgeable about obvious racism (which yes I’ve always been aware of), but the more implicit racism that every white person has. I will never know what it’s like to be black or any person of color, nor will I claim to understand. The best that I can do is to educate, share, discuss and act. I can still make an impact while acknowledging my privilege as a white person and the continuous, life-threatening/ending racism that occurs today.
Since Floyd’s death, protests have erupted across the country. Unfortunately, brutality against black people still continues, and change to the treatment that people are demanding has been minimal. I’ve had continuous discussions with family members with them saying, “Protesting is okay, however rioting, looting, and destroying businesses are not.” I agree with that statement, no doubt. With that being said, I’m not surprised that it’s happening. Our country was built on racism and our country has continued to ignore and harm people of color, 401 years after the first black people were brought to North America in 1619. Yes, slavery is no more, Jim Crow laws have ceased, and black people can vote freely, however, they still are at a disadvantage compared to white people and discriminated against so of course, they’re angry. From my understanding, the question that people of color are asking, “When can we be treated equally?” Despite this racial issues persist so they’re going to continue to protest. With this people respond, “They don’t need to loot business.” Are they all looting business? Or is it white people or even law enforcement? The bottom line, looting is not solely done by protesters, especially people of color. “They don’t need to riot,” but in so many cases protesters are not even starting the riots. People of all colors are fighting back. And I believe that everyone should fight back any way they can to receive the change they deserve.
I have four family members who were in law enforcement and judging by their character, I have the utmost trust that they did their jobs with respect for all people. I know that there are police who go above and beyond to make sure that everyone is safe. But let me say two things: 1) “Blue Lives” do not exist 2) Law enforcement is built on racism, as every single institution in the United States is. When I see a post that says, “Blue Lives Matter”, it signifies that a job is more important than someone’s life...that a uniform is superior to a living person. That should never be true. Yes, police put their lives at risk and their jobs can be difficult, but to equate racism to a uniform is appalling and dehumanizing. I get that people say “Blue Lives Matter'' to support law enforcement, but they are completely missing the point of the real movement of Black Lives Matter. This statement ignorantly neglects the fact the law enforcement is built on racism is proving ignorance. There are people in law enforcement who are not blatantly racist or harm people in any way, but they still work in a system that harms (directly and indirectly) people of color. In another example, if you’re a teacher, you are also part of an institution that prioritizes whites above people of color. I am not saying that officers and teachers are the cause of racist systems, but there are individuals in these institutions who contribute to the problem. If there is going to be change, the system needs to change. Defunding the police and putting those excess funds to resources like rehabilitation centers for instance will catalyze change. This will not be a complete solution. I pay my respects to law enforcement who help millions of lives, but it also needs to be said that they are part of a system that ends innocent lives.
I am a white, queer, woman living an upper-middle-class lifestyle. Technically you can say that I am a minority in relation to gender and sexuality, however, I don’t see myself as one, because of my race and class. Yes, I’ve been cat-called before, and I know that while I haven’t experienced direct homophobia, I’m sure that is a possibility that could happen. However, with that being said, I am privileged. I am receiving a high-class education. I know where my next meal is coming from. And if I want to treat myself to anything I want, for the most part, I can. I’m going to continue to educate myself on race, gender, sexuality, history and politics. I’m not here to force my opinions onto you. I’m here to continue the dialogue that has been going on since the beginning of time...and that starts with recognizing your strengths, limitations and educating yourself. I’m acknowledging that I’m privileged, can be ignorant and I don’t know everything, but I’m motivated to learn and discuss. I hope you are also motivated to learn and discuss as we continue on this historic journey known as the year of 2020.