“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.
I hesitated to add my voice to this movement. I was afraid that it would viewed as political, which it is not. It is simply the right thing, the ethical thing, and that is enough. I grew up mostly in the south. I went to elementary school in Louisiana when David Duke was the governor. I have been aware of the discrimination against people of color my entire life. It wasn’t until I had lunch with a dear friend that it really connected for me that the people suffering were my friends. My neighbors. My church family. My town. My country.
My friend is one of the best people I know in this world. She is patient, kind, loving, a good mother, well educated, faithful, prayerful, from a wonderful, happy family. Her children are well behaved, polite, gentle, smart, happy kids. Her husband is strong, faithful, loving, handsome, and kind. This beautiful friend met me for lunch and was describing how her neighbor treated her and her children differently. She described how this neighbor also treated another woman of color in the neighborhood differently. While I was outraged that anyone would treat this amazing family with anything less than love and dignity, it was her reaction to that broke my heart. As I sat there in shock, horrified that in this modern time, she was dealing with this, she said to me, “It’s okay, it’s just how it is.” It is not okay. It has never been okay. Ignoring this is no longer an option. It should never have been an option.
To my friends, family, neighbors, humans of color, I don’t pretend that I could ever know what it’s like to walk in your shoes but I can promise to walk beside you. You matter. You are beautiful. You don’t deserve the things that have been happening to you.
If you are in a place of privilege whether because of the color of your skin, your affluence, your influence, or your position in society, you have an obligation to stand up, speak up, help however you can. We cannot be complacent. If you think that it’s not your problem, you are the problem.
If you are unsure how you can help visit: Wit & Delight, How White People Can Be Better Allies to the Black Community or Guidelines For Being Strong White Allies or 8 Lessons From the Future of Solidarity: How White People Can Support the Movement for Black Lives, or any of the other numerous resources out there. Another great read is “Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women that a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall.