We Need to Have A Talk
I’ve been struggling to put my feelings on what is happening in the world, this week and the previous in particular, into words. There is a lot of talk about “silence” during this time and I while I am a quiet and very much private individual in general, I also can’t sit back and not say what is both on my mind and my heart. You may not like what I have to say, and that is your right. If anything I am about to say offends you because this is going to be uncomfortable, then please, feel free to defriend, unfollow, etc. but it is my hope that this post convinces you to think deeply about what is happening in this world and to evaluate things in a way that is constructive and stirs action that brings about real and positive change. I realize most of you won’t read the whole thing, but I hope that you will.
What is happening in every city right now is distressing and heartbreaking. Not just because of the destruction, or the riots, or the very much justified anger and rage that has been building well beyond this week, but because it is revealing something that America has swept under the rug and willfully chosen to turn a blind eye to for far too long—American society is broken.
I am all for peacefully protesting. The ability to peacefully organize and protest is a tool to bring issues to light so that as a society everyone can become aware of very real problems and work toward remedying them to make the world better in some way.
I do not condone the destruction of property, cities, people’s livelihoods, the looting, vandalism, and outright violence and hatred things have devolved into. And yes, there should be consequences for people who break the law on both sides of this, law enforcement and non-law enforcement. Before we start screaming at one another and finger pointing though and turn this into a superiority complex more than it already has become, we also all need to sit down and realize that this is the result of an entire American society willingly turning a blind eye to the problems plaguing marginalized people. It doesn’t excuse the destruction, but it’s a damn good place to have an honest heart, morality, empathy check as well as a serious conversation on finding solutions so that it doesn’t have to happen again.
Black Lives MATTER. The hopes, dreams, futures, opportunities, livelihoods, freedoms of people of color matter. Because “all” lives can’t matter if Black lives don’t matter too. If we can’t or more importantly won’t change this world for people of color, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, every ethnicity everywhere outside of just white in a meaningful way where each and every one matters on an equal level and is not thought less of due to what they look like, then NO lives matter and never will in the end.
A wrong was clearly committed with the murder of George Floyd by police brutality. This goes deeper than just George Floyd though. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson and so many others who did not need to die but did at the hands of a corrupt system steeped in racism. White people, say their names, know the injustices that killed them. Stop refusing to acknowledge that the system is broken, that society is broken. Because it is. It really is.
There needs to be accountability. This system needs to change. We shouldn’t have a system that clearly does favor some people more than others. Seeing white people protesting with firearms and weapons at a state capital building without consequences is disturbing. I don’t care if you had a conceal carry permit to do so and it was your “right.” This isn’t about gun control here and I have no intention to make it so. This is about rules applying to some but not others at times. Had that been any other skin color carrying firearms like that, it would have been a very different outcome. “Peaceful” was not the message conveyed from that protest. Intimidation was.
And I am outright disgusted at seeing the leader of this country flaunt and downright abuse his power by stoking the fires of racism with his tweets. That is not acceptable behavior for anyone, least of all a world leader and no one should be proud of the way he is representing this country right now.
Do BETTER America. ALL of us no matter your skin color, no matter your position or circumstances, can do better to make this world better and more accepting for people of color and every race that are facing injustice at the hands of a broken system.
White people, use what you have to make a difference. We talk a big game and virtue signal all over social media for all the attention, so time to put up or shut up on helping make this world safer for the marginalized so we can all enjoy it together and bring that equally we claim exists into reality. You don’t need to be wealthy, have your life together, have no problems of your own to be a decent human being to people.
Politicians, stop arguing with each other about this liberal and conservative bullshit and start working together on solutions to the problems for the people you were put into power to represent and work for. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, it’s an every person in America issue.
Law enforcement, do your jobs to protect and serve and get better systems in place to prevent senseless murders and if an officer does commit a wrong and abuses their power, hold them accountable for it. It should not take the destruction of cities to get results on something that should already be in place from the start but isn't.
It’s 2020. No one should have to face inequality at this point on account of their skin color and yet we as a society are allowing this to happen. What we are seeing here is the combined result of a very broken society and system that can do so much better. But it’s not going to get better unless we stop dancing around the issues and actually do something to address and work toward resolving them.
My heart breaks seeing this destruction because society is so broken and it doesn't need to be. The power to create a society that is fair, stable, and allows opportunities for everyone no matter your skin color is in everyone's hands here. We need to work together to make this happen. As a society, we have forgotten so many things, basic human decency is one of these things as are kindness and empathy. Instead of hatred for one another, we should be focusing on making this world better, for everyone. The pandemic has brought the ugliness that has always been festering to the surface and there’s no better time to confront this than now.
Start with people who face injustice every day. Start fixing this world for them with accountability in society, in law enforcement, in politics, as well as personally in every single one of us as human beings. Nobody is above racism and hatred to some degree. We are all guilty of it, even if we don’t realize it. And when we realize this and refuse to turn a blind eye to the fact that every single one of us harbors some degree of this, instead of burying these issues and refusing to confront them because it makes us uncomfortable, we can address and start fixing this.
This should not be an “us” verses “them” issue. It needs to be a “we” issue. People claim to want to make America "great" again, but how can it be great if it only applies to some and not others? How is that greatness at all? How can we all work together to make it great not just for the few, but for all? There is a saying in my family that I think about often, “If you are ever looking down at someone, you damn well better be offering them your hand to help them up.”
America, it’s 2020. We need to fix this. We need to be helping people up if we are looking down at them. We need to listen. We need to work together if we want to move toward a better future. We can’t keep fueling this systemic racism that is designed to breed hatred and turn everyone against each other. It needs to stop with us. Black lives need to matter. Hispanic lives need to matter. Asian lives need to matter. Native American lives need to matter. Everyone’s lives need to matter if all lives are to matter but we start with the oppressed, the marginalized, the underrepresented. And we fix this so as a society we can move forward to a better future together.
Change starts with each of us. We need to be open to listening. We need to be open to communicating. We need to realize privilege and use it to help and not hurt. Not every person changing the world is going to be screaming on social media. Unless that screaming translates to meaningful action, it’s just noise in a digital void. If you are in a position where you can donate to organizations, then do so. If you’re not in a position to donate money, support marginalized artists and businesses through other means. Check out books, art, music, and games from creators who are different from you. Lift them up.
Show them that they matter. That you see them and acknowledge them. Even if you can only help one person, you've made a difference to that person. Start. Somewhere.
Bring some diversity into your life, educate yourself on the issues. Acknowledge that the system is broken and then be that change. Being decent human beings to one another doesn’t cost anything other than being able to see past ourselves. Kindness goes a long way but we can’t always be kind if we can’t get over ourselves and our pride long enough to actually be genuine in caring about people beyond ourselves. We need change. We need to work to fix this so that everyone can and does matter.
But we need to start and not just sweep these crucial failings as a society back into some corner somewhere until the next George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson brings it back out into the open. We cannot and must not let this happen again.
If this is going to stop, it needs to stop with the combined efforts of each and every one of us. Be the change. Be kind. But most importantly, be the difference in this world. Because we cannot honestly claim that all lives matter until Black lives matter, Hispanic lives matter, Asian lives matter, Native American lives matter, every non-white life matters with the same value white people place on their own.
We need to start somewhere on what is going to be a tough and long journey to change, let’s take that first step by making sure black lives matter. Not just today. Not just tomorrow. But forever.