The first time I saw a video of a black man getting murdered by the police, I sat at my computer in disbelief. I watched the video. I read the articles. I scrolled through the trending Twitter topic and the more I saw and read, the sadder and angrier I got. I had nothing to say, so I said nothing. That was my first mistake.
I am not black. I will never be black and I will never actually understand the struggles that black men and women experience on a daily basis in this country. I cannot fully understand the feeling of being afraid for my life, every time I step outside. I cannot begin to fathom being not only discriminated against in my everyday life, but also targeted. Hunted. Killed. Simply for the color of my skin.
But I can listen and I can speak out. I can help. I can do anything and everything in my absolute power to call attention to these injustices and demand these people be treated equally. Because when you sit around and simply watch injustice, murder, happen - you are part of the problem. It is always our place to say something, to act, when innocent people are being killed; when fathers, mothers, children, are being murdered. They are not just hashtags, trending topics, newspaper headlines. They are someone's husband, someone's child. They are loved, they are missed. I think about the people of color I have in my life - my significant other, my best friend, people i consider family - and I am terrified every day of the dangers they face simply for existing.
I recently had a conversation with my good friend Reuben Faloughi about racism and white privilege. Whether he realizes it or not, Reuben has been one of the most important educators in my life. He has introduced me to numerous books about systematic racism, had countless conversations with me about white privilege, and challenged me to think outside of my comfort zone. He has forced me to not only recognize the injustices that happen to black people, but to speak out about them as well.
"What can I do?" I asked him. "How can I help fix this? I'm just one person. One white person. I don't want it to seem like I'm taking over the cause, I just want to help the cause."
"Start the conversation," he responded. "Use your platform as a white woman to educate. People will listen to you. This is everyone's fight."
And so I'm here. To have the conversation. Educate yourself. Try to first understand. Then talk about it, educate others. And act. Speak out. By doing nothing, saying nothing, you are adding to the injustice. Here are some places to start:
"I must confess that over the past 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 his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler 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 cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a 'more convenient season.'"
-Martin Luther King Jr.