Ending Silence: America’s not so different

I’m sitting here feeling disgusted, watching yet another black person murdered at the hands of police; at the pearl clutching over the righteous rage and protest which has followed; at the silence of every white person watching on, myself included. Why are we so unable to find a way to respect, rather than kill one another? Why do we sit in silence and fail to speak up when horror is right before us?

I don’t speak up about matters of race anywhere near as much as I should, every person should, every white person certainly should. I’ll admit, it’s a fear; of being wrong, of looking stupid, saying the wrong thing. Yeah that’s an excuse, and I should be grateful for not having to fear walking down the road, taking my life in my hands. So at the risk of looking a bit silly – as this is about far more people and important matters than my own puerile guilt – fuck this disgusting privilege that I never have to think about, but which paradoxically allows me to choose not to speak out.

All these people crying out for property and against looting, with all blame being cast on people of colour as usual, but not a sound about a law enforcement officer killing yet another citizen, for allegedly passing a counterfeit note? How is that proportionate? Does that not justify a righteous backlash? Sure, protest leading to rioting can lead to looting, but it’s not colour that takes advantage and smashes a window to steal stuff; it’s opportunism borne of inequality, of poverty, of frustration and an opportunity to flip the middle finger at someone. From every report I’ve seen, the looters are every bit as white as they are not. Don’t come with your bullshit false equivalence, from the death of an unarmed man and the justified fury which followed, to bricks through windows and running off with a tv because it’s there, fuck it. It shouldn’t need saying, but these things are not the same.

I’m sick of this shit; I can’t begin to imagine how people of colour feel. I desperately don’t want to appropriate another community’s pain (another part of why I don’t speak out enough) but this country is no different, and there but for grace go we. Less guns perhaps, but we have all the same systemic failures which cause these outrages to occur, with unmarshalled elites at the helm who not only do not give a shit about the masses or achieving equality, but benefit from watching the injustice of the status quo propagate. If you’re black, poor, female, queer, disabled, or in any way ‘other’, you don’t get the same chances afforded those who lean into who their parents are, where they were born, the money in their pocket, their gender… the colour of their skin. You’re exponentially more likely to be killed by this same inequality than I will ever be. Your path is cluttered with obstacles intentionally placed there over decades that I can’t, don’t, or won’t ever see. All so those same elites – on both sides of the Atlantic – can run around as they please, uttering whatever insane airborne inanity passes their lips today. At the same time people are literally having the air crushed from theirs, for apparently stepping out of line. It shouldn’t need saying, but these things are not unrelated.

I’m not going to wear a safety pin or applaud for people who are brutalised in person and in policy every day, no matter how utterly magnificent they might all be. Empty gestures are no solutions. I offer no solutions either, other than breaking a tiny part of the white silence, offering allyship should it be asked for, and saying sorry that I haven’t done or said more. White people have a responsibility to educate themselves on matters of race, far beyond just the obvious, and to speak out when that injustice is right fucking there, front and centre before our eyes.

It’s so heartbreaking that we are not better people, a better civilisation, despite the efforts of such great individuals and movements throughout history who have battled to break down these barriers. I just know I don’t want to be in any way complicit in this disgrace any longer, hiding behind my privileged silence. I apologise for not saying more before. I also apologise if this isn’t my place to say, or if I’ve said it poorly. I’ve tried to choose my words carefully.

Enough is enough. It has been for centuries now.

#BlackLivesMatter #smashwhitesupremacy #Smashinequality #NoPeaceWithoutJustice #RIPGeorgeFloyd

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