I sit in my comfy suburban home, curled up on my cozy couch, watching cities burn on the tv hanging in front of me. I feel no fear for my life, the lives of my children or my community. I am completely unaffected in every way. I am white and sheltered and privileged. I am a coward.
My heart breaks for men and women who fear for their lives, the lives of their children and the lives of their community because of their skin color. I am angry with those who are angry, unwilling to accept that the world they live in, that was built on their backs, doesn’t belong to them any more now than it did when their people was forced to create it. Their voices mean little more now than they did when they wore shackles. Their lives are still a small price to pay for the comfort of white men.
I know this truth, I hate this truth, and I mourn this truth. When it is in the news. When someone happens to catch a video of the daily hatred, and it is in a news cycle again, and I am reminded of the daily hate and struggle, I am enraged. As soon as my social media is quiet again, I am busy with my own struggles, and I pay it no attention.
I am privileged.
What’s worse than all of this: I am silent. I retweet a #blacklivesmatter tweet, because none of my immediate circle follows my twitter, and it is safe. I share someone’s whitewashed meme on my instagram, because it makes just enough of a statement to say that I’m not ignorant, but it still remains safe. I send heart emojis and love to those I know are struggling, because it’s private and unoffensive, and it remains safe.
My black friends might occasionally call me caring and sympathetic. Calling me an ally would be a stretch. An advocate I am not. I am lukewarm at best, and a coward.
I know I have family, and friends who are like family, who roll their eyes at me when I make a statement in support of #blacklivesmatter. They may respond with an #alllivesmatter or “but they…first” retort. They will judge me and argue with me and possibly reject me. I don’t want to rock the boat. I don’t want to make waves in a relationship that already has strains. I don’t want to take a risk. I don’t want to offend. I don’t want to…not be safe.
I have a choice of whether or not I’m “safe.” I AM PRIVILEGED.
All of this, those first 439 words, they disgust me. If black men and women can walk around this world fearing for their lives because they are driving down the street black, I can grow up and at least stand tall with them and say some truth. This is my truth:
This is not okay. It never was and it never will be. Stop making murder okay. Stop shaming a man that tried to protest peacefully and dared to offend your precious national anthem. Stop pretending that it somehow disrespects our troops and what America stands for. You know that’s not true. Stop shaming “angry black women” for standing up for their husbands and sons and begging for their lives to stop being disposable. Stop making excuses for kids and men that are committing PETTY CRIMES (at most) and are being killed in the street while white men stand on government steps with assault rifles in the faces of law enforcement. Stop making black on black crime an excuse to execute black people in the streets. Stop saying All Lives Matter until ALL lives actually matter. Stop saying Blue Lives Matter until Bad Cops stop executing black people in the streets and “Good Cops” don’t do shit about it. Stop blaming desperate people for riots and looting when that is not the point. Stop focusing on all of the things “they” are doing wrong so that you don’t have to look at the fact that you are perpetuating hate. Stop saying if “they” would just listen to the cops and not resist they wouldn’t get shot. Stop saying “they” should just follow the law. Stop making excuses for murder. Stop saying “I’m not privileged, I’ve had struggles, too. when your hard life has nothing to do with your skin color. Stop making excuses for hate.
Stop silencing vocal white people with your intimidation and shame because we dare to stand up for what is right. Stop making fun of me when I stand for what is right. Stop making me feel like I’m sacrificing relationship with you by caring about people being murdered in the streets in broad daylight.
Stop. Perpetuating. Hate.
I’m not playing along anymore. I’m done backing down when it gets hard or I get “scared.”
If that means I don’t get invited to the family reunion, so be it.