This past week, the world witnessed something that a video uploaded to social media exposed: yet another black American man murdered. His name is George Floyd, and he was a human being whose life was viciously snuffed out by a disgraced white police officer. His gruesome, heartbreaking murder is one of many…a victim of the largest systematic, global problem: racism.
Racism is not news. It has been a problem forever. Now, with users being able to upload and inform people all over the world of anything, we are finally able to see it with our own eyes, in our own homes. For people of color, this is their reality. They do not have to see a video to know that this reality exists. But as a CIS gendered white woman, admittedly, I was not prepared for the horror that was the videos of the death of Ahmaud Abery and George Floyd. And of course, the unprovoked threats to Christian Cooper by Amy Cooper.
Amy Cooper is the very picture of being aware of having white privilege and using it to elevate her white supremacy. This woman showed what other videos did not. The pure condescension in her voice. The pure hate and racism. The most frightening part – the part where her tone, her voice says without saying it: stand down. I am a white woman. I can get you murdered. She used her racism as a weapon.
How many times has this exact scenario occurred without cameras to bring these racists to light? How many people have been hurt-have been murdered – and justice was not served because we didn’t see it happen? How many times has this exact circumstance occurred and no one was aware because it didn’t get shared globally via any and all social media platforms?
And finally, how many cases of racial injustice and murder were legally actioned because we saw the video on social media? Not because it had already been seen by officials who had originally done nothing?
After feeling helpless for far too long, and wishing I could do more, I had come to realize that I can absolutely do more. It is not enough to not be racist. As a white person, with white privilege I must dedicate myself to being actively and loudly anti-racist. I can stand up for those who need me the most and do everything in my power to engage others to do the same.
With being a non-racist, your job is simple: do not judge or hate people based on their skin color. However, to be anti-racist, you must be actively trying to contribute to eliminating behaviors and situations for the protection and solidarity of people with color.
I’m at the beginning of a lifelong journey. I know it will not be a perfect journey, and I know that I’ll have to dedicate my time to ongoing learning and not be afraid to be called out when I make a mistake. As a white person it is so important to examine myself in the process if I am going to take my allyship to where it needs to be to make a real difference to help BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color).
I would like to share some steps that have resonated with me, steps that we can all collectively do to help ignite change:
- Social media responsibility: I am not talking here about reposting anti-racist memes, I’m not talking here about making sure that you are educating yourself by following anti-racist accounts on Instagram, twitter, and Facebook. I’m talking about using what platforms you do have to pass along education and messages of solidarity with BIPOC. Engaging in conversations. And continuing to do so beyond present time.
- Support by means of action: Act by standing with BIPOC loudly. Lobby lawmakers. Engage in antiracist activism practices. Donate to anti-racist groups. Dedicate your takeout and shopping funds to support businesses run by BIPOC. Support art, cinema, and any other initiatives run by POC. Sign every related petition that you can get your hands on.
- Educate yourself to educate others: Read. We have access to all kinds of information at the click of a button. So instead of using your free time to take yet another frivolous Buzzfeed quiz, maybe read or listen to a podcast or audiobook that will help further your journey. Listen to BIPOC who want to talk. Remember that it is NOT the responsibility of BIPOC to educate us. We must do this ourselves.
Remember, there is not going to be a quick fix in dismantling such a widespread problem. Your actions are important right now and always. Start today and integrate your anti-racist actions into every aspect of your life. Humankind is depending on us. Let us be committed to anti-racism, to listening, and to action to protect people of color. In a fight against racial injustice, white people must take a hard stand to help BIPOC. Start now if you haven’t already, and start with your social media accounts.
I am including some links that helped me get started – and I will continue to seek out further resources, so if you have any you would like to share with me, please do.
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad (Amazon / Audible)
How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi (Amazon / Audible)
Social Media Organizations:
Antiracism Center (Twitter)
Understanding My Privilege | Sue Borrego (YouTube)
Take a Walk in My Shoes: Jane Elliott (YouTube)
Source (s) / Further Reading:
Check me out on Facebook & Twitter!
A fight against racial injustice: white people, stand up…and keep standing up! (Facebook)
White Privilege and Racism, what you need to do #BlackLivesMatter (Twitter)