“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Letter from Birmingham Jail by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 16 April 1963
For the past couple of days, I’ve been struggling to find the words to articulate my thoughts on the black lives matter movement for equality in the US as protests sweep my home country. My desk is littered with unfinished notes, yet no words seem to fit or right to share. I was afraid to say the wrong thing. I was afraid of saying something that could be perceived as racist, so I just didn’t say anything MEANINGFUL at all.
But then the realization hit – this isn’t about me.
MY silence is just as bad as any words of outward racism. In the silence of the white moderate, of white girls just like me, lies the true killer. This silence in which I have been complicit in what has allowed POC to be persecuted, hurt, threatened, and killed for centuries. Silence is the knee on the throat, suffocating human lives.
I’ve been breathing the air of racism my entire life.
I am racist. Fuck, that was hard to write. Something I’ve learned is that in reality, we are all either racist or actively anti-racist. There is no middle ground.
Just like the three policemen who stood by and watched Derek Chauvin kill George Floyd and did nothing about it, we cannot stand by and continue to be silent while our fellow humans are dying.
As the great and indomitable Maya Angelou once wrote – “do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
I won’t be patronizing and say easy fluff words like “I’m sorry or I see you, and I hear you.” Fuck that. Who cares? It means nothing. Instead, I’m committing to showing the fuck up alongside POC to upend the system (in which I’ve been complicit) that intentionally suppress basic human rights.
When your government fails you, you dissent. When your nation kills you, you fight back. When your country doesn’t follow its own constitution to provide “equality before the law,” you hold them accountable. When your “leader in chief” threatens violence, you vote him out.
This doesn’t end with protests. This ends when black people and POC live and are treated equally and with dignity.
My heart breaks that I can’t be in the US to protest in person right now, and truly do the hard work of showing up. I may be stuck halfway around the world behind a closed New Zealand border with no passport but I will do all I can to show up and be an ally and truly support the people who need it the most now. Are you committed to showing up too?
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
SAY IT WITH ME ONE MORE TIME, BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Places I’m donating to:
Books I’m reading to un-learn my racism:
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis
Names of victims I’m honoring:
- George Floyd
- Breonna Taylor
- Eric Garner
- Ahmaud Arbery
- Freddie Gray
- Bothem Jean
- Atatiana Jefferson
- Amadou Diallo
- Jonathan Ferrell
- Stephon Clark
- Jordan Edwards
- Jordan Davis
- Walter Scott
- Alton Sterling
- Aiyana Jones
- Yvonne Smallwood
- Mike Brown
- Tamir Rice
- Philandro Castile
- Trayvon Martin
- And thousands more.