First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller (German Lutheran Pastor)
I stand with our marginalized communities who are standing up and speaking against White Supremacist groups that have now been given space and voice by our president. Whatever they call themselves, Alt-Right, Nazis, under any name they represent the worst elements in our country. I’ve been struggling, as I always do, around what I can do to help. I’m trying to find the right voices to listen to and to amplify. Here’s what I’ve got right now.
Attend vigils if you’ve got one near you and you’re able to attend. Here’s a site to find one near you.
Donate some money to one of the organizations working there right now. Here’s a list.
And this: Talk about it. Having these conversations can be really hard, but the responsibility of anyone who wants to act as an ally to marginalized communities. Another friendly reminder: Ally is not a noun, Ally is a VERB. It’s a thing you do, not an identity you get to claim. If you want to say you’re an ally, now is the time to prove it. Call out racism when you see it. This is especially true if you’re a white person like me. It is my responsibility to use my priviledge to help support those people who don’t have access to the spaces that I have. And it’s HARD, I’m an introvert and I hate confrontation, but if I don’t use the power that I have, it benefits those people who want to hurt our most vulnerable communities.
An in the vein of trying to be a better ally: The Hard Truth that Good White People Need to Hear.
I have just one thought about all the media I’m seeing right now. I really don’t like the phrase “Silence = Consent”, because that’s SUCH a dangerous thing to imply. I understand why people are saying it and (I think) what they’re trying to say. If we don’t speak up when we see shit like this happening in OUR country, we’re giving tacit support. We NEED to speak up, we need to act up. And we also need to own up to the fact that this is our problem. BUT, the word consent here is problematic. I don’t want an issue of semantics to derail the real discussion going on here, the focus needs to stay on the issue. But I needed to voice this. Tone policing is shitty and that’s not what I want to be doing here. People are justifiably outraged, and they should be.
However, consent. When a person is raped and they didn’t or couldn’t say no, their silence is not consent. However, if you witness a crime and you don’t tell someone about it, take the actions that you’re able to take, you are complicit. You’re letting shit happen and dismissing it by saying ‘it doesn’t affect me, I didn’t participate’. And that’s not okay. There’s always exceptions, sometimes you have to keep quiet because it isn’t safe. And I don’t advocate putting yourself into direct harm if speaking up puts you into an unsafe situation.
Honestly though, most of us “good white folks” aren’t risking our safety when we speak up about racial issues. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, yes it’s difficult, yes it might be scary, but for the most part, we’re not risking our physical safety in bringing up the issue. It’s something we really need to do if we want to put our money where our mouths are. No more empty lip service. DO SOMETHING. Don’t foist it off saying ‘it wasn’t me’, or ‘it doesn’t represent my hometown’. It’s our problem and it’s long past time for us to face it and start fixing it.
I’m going to end with a quote from the Hard Truth article:
The country doesn’t actually need “good white people.” What it needs are actual allies; allies who listen to people of color, allies who don’t speak over people of color, allies who do not need to be told that they are good, allies that do not center their activism around whiteness, allies who are not colorblind. If this is too much to ask, if you grow defensive when challenged, if your first instinct is to lash out, maybe you were never actually truly a good white person to begin with.