I grew up in a lovely house, in a neighborhood where fear was not part of my daily routine. My parents never had to teach me that walking around in specific clothing could endanger my life. I have never been driving in my car only to be stopped by police with a gun pointed directly at my head. I have never had things thrown at me while being called horrific names or been hurt by people who believe I should not have the right to breathe the same air. I did, however, naively live my life as though racism was a thing of the past. I lived in an unrealistic bubble that shut out the truth of hate and suppression as though it was nothing. I am white, and I am privileged.
I take full responsibility for my ignorance, and by doing so, I will evoke change. I will teach my children all people matter. Our kids directly learn from us and our actions. I will loudly stand up for injustices of the past to create change for the future. History is taught to prevent a repeat of mistakes. I will stand up with my community to demand equality. I will not allow anyone into my circle that stands for such treatment of others. I will not shop or eat at any facility that believes in bigotry. I will proudly vote against any government official that encourages discrimination.
I never saw myself as being a racist. I love and adore people from all walks of life. However, what I have done is realize that I am part of the problem, not for spreading racialism, but for purely standing aside when cases upon cases happened within our country. I will forever remember George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Tyre King, and countless others who have been senselessly killed for the hatred within others. I will quickly forget the names Derek Chauvin, Travis McMichael & Gregor McMichael for evil will never sit in my heart.
I continue to hear that a fix will not happen in a week, a year, or even decades. It is hard for me to believe that something so undeniably wrong cannot be eradicated more quickly. To inflict change, we need to have uncomfortable conversations, admit when we have wronged, and learn to do better.
The most important way to do this is to teach our youth to treat people as people, and to keep this discussion going by not letting it fade away when the next big news story breaks. We need to demand that our schools teach the real history of the Civil War and the ugliness that continues to poison society through and through.
I implore you to make a friend who has lived through the fear and prejudice that we only read about and see on the news. Listen to their stories and learn about their ancestors. Knowledge is contagious. We, the people, have the fundamental right, guaranteed by the First Amendment in the US constitution, to protest. To quote the wise Martin Luther King, “riots are the language of the unheard.” When change is demanded, and we stand together all people matter. Before George Floyd’s death, his beautiful daughter sat upon her daddy’s shoulders and said, “my dad is going to change the world.” Yes, sweet girl, he most certainly is.
When we stand together, our voices echo.