There’s a lot I don’t know. But what I do know is I have a platform and a voice, and it’s time to use them.
It’s been a hard few days, but I’ve selfishly forgotten that it’s been harder for our black brothers and sisters for much longer. The tears I’ve cried and the hurt I’ve felt sitting on my chest is so insignificant compared to the tears and hurt felt for so many years by people who have been mistreated, berated and murdered because of the color of their skin and racial injustice.
I was born into privilege because the color of my skin. My brother, was not. My brother, who shares the same blood as me, was not born into privelege. My brother, who is 50% white and 50% African American, has been treated in a way I will never be treated. And that has always rattled me to my core.
I woke up on June 2nd to see a black square at the top of my newsfeed. Within 5 minutes I was researching and trying to figure out what that signified. I read the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday, and knew that as a business owner, with everything going on in the world, I needed to pause business as usual and make way for the voices who matter. The voices of those who are suffering and those who can educate me.
I won’t lie to you and say I know things when I simply don’t. I don’t know the hurt that black men and women feel. I don’t know the statistics like the back of my hand. I don’t know the names of every single black person murdered by privileged white people. I won’t say I’ve been involved in fixing the problem because the truth is, me simply not being racist hasn’t been enough.
I woke up on June 2nd to see a black square at the top of my newsfeed. That black square reminded me I needed to stop living my very privileged life for a second and start educating myself on a problem that’s existed longer than a week. Longer than any of us have been alive. Much longer than it should be. Racism, in 2020, should not exist.
It should have never existed. But it still does.
Over the last few days, I have wrestled with myself over going to a protest. Not because I don’t want to, but because I’m fearful. While I’ve grown up being a non-racist, I also grew up in a house with my father who shoved HIS beliefs down my throat and took away my voice. My opinions were wrong unless they aligned with his, and on almost every subject and nearly every level, I never agreed with him. But I could never tell him that. He instilled fear into me that made me turn away from speaking out on my opinions and beliefs, specifically regarding politics. I’m a grown woman, I know now I should have known better. And while I can’t use my father’s terrible behaviors in raising me as an excuse, it most certainly has contributed to not being more vocal on any of my own beliefs. And I am ashamed of that through and through.
I have wrestled with speaking out throughout my life, and I’ve wrestled with going to a protest because doing so, after living in fear of my opinions and voice being wrong, makes me uncomfortable. Which is selfish. My fear and being uncomfortable is selfish, when our black communities have experienced those very two things their entire lives because of their skin color.
My being uncomfortable has lifted and shifted. I’m finally using my voice to be able to stand up for those who have been forced to stand back. Today, I will be attending my first ever protest and I’m excited to stand in solidarity with those who share the same beliefs I do. The beliefs that our black communities need better and deserve better. And that we, as white privileged people, need to BE BETTER and DO BETTER, and use our privilege to speak LOUDER and make CHANGE.
2020 can be the year of pivotal change. We must make it happen.
To all People Of Color, please hear me say I will vow to do better. To be more educated. To be a louder voice for you. And to continue to fight for your equal rights. I am not better than you. I have never thought that, and I am raising my children to understand that racism will not be tolerated and they are not better than anyone else for any reason — especially not because of the color of their skin. My children will know your pain and the truth about the world you have lived in. They will love you and protect you. Because as one photographer recently has said, we will stand beside you. The only time we will stand in front of you is to protect you.
I love you.
(image credit: Montecruz Foto/Flickr)