Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Don't Be Silent

These last few days have been crazy. The peaceful protests at the plaza seem to have led to rioting and attempts at looting. We live about 3 miles away and been watching coverage live, and have also heard that cops were shooting the peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas. Trump shut down the White House and went into hiding, only to borrow someone's bible and pose in front of a church full of graffiti, some type of deranged marketing on his part. It's not the time for us to remain silent; with the injustices in the world our voices hold more weight together. I love the quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world", and I want to live up to the idealism of that sentiment.

I've had a lot of extra time these last 4 days, since I'm currently healing up from an overuse injury to my knee (I plan to see how it feels after an hour of training tonight). It's healing up fine, and I've used my free time to think about how I can be the change I wish to see. Over the years, I believe my biggest fault in not affecting change is being too quiet. I was raised in a household that valued silence and not being too loud, and when given the opportunity to voice my opinion in the real world, I choked. Part of me was afraid that in voicing my own opinion I would be accused of not respecting others' opinions. Part of me was afraid of being verbally (or physically) attacked for doing so. Also, part of me was afraid that I would lose friends.

I've grown up a bit since then, and since that time I've realized that 1.) I am not disrespecting others by making my voice count, 2.) I'm not afraid to defend my voice; I don't control others actions but I can control my own reaction, and 3.) so what if I lose those so called friends?? I really don't want to pretend to be friends with someone who holds racist beliefs. Silence doesn't protect us.


On a side note, while I was an undergrad, someone in college who whispered an unsolicited racist comment in my ear in the voting line several years ago during the Obama election is now peppering her own Facebook with Black Lives Matter posts. I hope for her own sake she has truly changed her opinion and that it's real. When she made that comment to me it destroyed our friendship, but I do want to believe people can change. It was also later, on a different campus, that I learned to take a stand. During a lecture, a professor made a comment about "sounding black". I raised my hand, stood up in front of a diverse group of my peers, and challenged him, my voice shaky at first but becoming stronger. It was the first time I felt like I HAD a voice. The encouraging faces of my peers gave me support, but their silence also made me realize that I wasn't the only one who once equated silence with safety.

I like to focus on my training and my workouts because that is what de-stresses me and makes me feel like I'm doing something productive. It allows me to de-clutter my thoughts and to think about the world around me. Recently, and in a day or two when I am able to pick back up on those workouts, I want to channel those thoughts into how I can affect change. I want to truly understand the struggles the black community goes through on a daily basis. Understanding generalities isn't enough.


I recognize that I have white privilege, and while I try to gain insight, I don't truly know what it's like to live a life without that privilege. I don't know what it's like to walk in the shoes of a black American, or to worry about being racially profiled simply for walking down the street or cashing a check. Regardless, my eyes are open, and my eyes have been open for years. I've had white friends I've known over time make racist comments to me. Years into knowing them, they open their mouth and one dribbles out; they mistakenly assumed that since I'm white, I must hold those same beliefs. (If anyone wonders, I never remained friends with them after that.) I'm going to use my voice for good. I am NOT going to argue with any negative comments here or anywhere else on my social media, those will be blocked. I am, however, open to discussing and more fully understanding others experiences and lives.


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