Day 2117 – Day 2120
Earlier this week, I made a statement on my social media in support of the black community, amongst other disadvantaged groups. Some people joined protests. Some people donated money silently. Some people were simply silent.
A lot of people judged one another’s response and pointed fingers at one another.
As far as I understand it, the idea of anti-racism is that it is no longer enough to simply not be racist, we must actively take a stand and work towards dismantling racism within all our systems. We should not be applauded for never doing something dastardly if we stand by and watch others do it. I get that. This makes sense to me. As a privileged white person, I still have inner and outer work to do.
I also know that I don’t know what is happening with the intentions of others, whether they are silent or vocal. All I can do is pay attention to my own intentions and behaviours and work with those people whose behaviour shows me that they are willing to walk the walk of intentions that align with my own. If I see someone who isn’t fitting into that category, I have a choice to make: do I assume, or do I have a conversation? As difficult as it is, I’m going to start having those conversations. I may lose some relationships, as a consequence. But, I might actually gain some, too.
There is no perfect response. Sometimes PTSD and silence look the same. Let us not judge the BIPOC person who cannot face another dead black man or woman and who does not join the protest. And, let us help guide our brothers and sisters who have not quite caught on to the difference between not being racist and being anti-racist. Social change takes changes within each and every one of us. Change always takes time and isn’t linear. Let us listen to the needs of the ones who are oppressed and then take action that amplifies, without paternalism.
I know I’ve got a lot to unlearn in order to be a potent anti-racist ally but I’m committed to doing that and I’m going to be imperfect and have blind spots. I expect people to call me out when I’m wrong, but I ask us all to do so with respect for the fact that we are both headed in the same direction.
One of my best friends is a black man living in New York City. I admit that I urged him to stay home. Is that wrong? I just don’t want him being arrested – or worse – because he is a black man out buying groceries, let alone protesting. I want my loved ones to be safe and I also want change. One of my favourite YouTubers captured some footage at a protest and you can clearly hear black protestors arguing about whether they should be putting their lives on the line, if it comes to that. Everybody is having a difficult time deciding how to respond.
And, with that said, while I’m not reposting photos of police officers taking a knee, this does not mean that I think Blue lives don’t matter. My personal opinion is that police and justice reform is required, in Canada and in the UK, to promote ways of policing and keeping the peace that no longer disproportionately targets certain groups of people. (I will leave it to citizens of their own countries to determine if it is needed there). I do not believe that the majority of law enforcement is made up of bad people – at least not in Canada or in the UK. The fact that we have frequent incidents of excessive force and a disproportionate number of police killing innocent people from the BIPOC community tells me that if the people are not bad, then the system must be. That is where I think we should be channelling our work – dismantling and rebuilding a just and fair system.
Everybody – whether BIPOC or white, whether protestor or police – deserves to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. At a time when we are standing up for justice and equality, let us not become judge and jury towards our fellow human being.
Let’s talk and let’s listen.
I’m grateful for the dialogue. I am grateful for the press – whether official or citizen – that is documenting what is going on in the world. I’m grateful for those who are willing to reserve judgement and offer ideas that will help me find my way through. I hope that maybe this reminder might help someone else, who is struggling. I’m grateful to be called out – either through a public activist who is calling out a society, collectively, or by a friend who will privately have a conversation with me.
But I’m also grateful that I have a platform to say this: call-out culture and an attitude of us versus them is not okay. Publicly or privately shaming anyone or any group of people is not okay. Shame is not the way to win someone to your ideas; it seems to me that it makes someone take a firm defensive position even when they might have been struggling to know where to stand. Where they could have been persuaded to be an ally, they are now divided from us.
Finally, I’m grateful that my spiritual path is love because as far as I have seen, love is always the only answer.
For what are you most grateful, today?