I wish I had spoken sooner: Black Lives Matter

Photo by Joan Villalon on Unsplash

The last few weeks have been a painful whirlwind of emotions.

I’ve struggled with how to start this post.

In the past few weeks as I’ve watched, listened, learned, and gotten a deeper level of understanding. I’ve realized I’ve been a ‘good white woman’ ignorantly thinking that was enough.

I didn’t think as a white woman, I was allowed to speak about why Black Lives Matter. It felt a little like cultural appropriation (which now sounds totally silly, in a way that men thinking women’s rights are only a women’s issue).

But really it was about a fear of saying the wrong thing. I knew I didn’t fully see it from the shoes of a BIPOC person, and I didn’t want to mess up. I’ve been trying to read, understand, and see my privilege. I feel like I’m not learning fast enough. And I’m not speaking out and getting uncomfortable enough; I’m not risking enough (duh, white privilege).

It’s not acceptable for me to stay silent. Silence is no longer an option. (If you still think silence is an option, check this article out).

So with that, I fully acknowledge that I will make mistakes. But I commit to learning from those mistakes and doing better.

I know it’s not the job of BIPOC to do the emotional work of educating white people like me. And I’m so thankful so many did it anyway so I may learn and better understand. Below is a list of resources that helped me gain a deeper understanding.

It was made clear to me that if I want to live my values, I need to be explicitly clear on where I stand in all of this.

Black Lives Matter.

I will stand in the discomfort that I live in a country that was built and continues to profit from the systematic exploitation, domination, and suppression of BIPOC. And as a white person, I benefit from this daily. I will learn how to transform this inner turmoil into meaningful corrective action. That is my work to do.

It’s hard to know exactly what to do to do my part. I’ve heard others struggle with this as well, to the point of feeling overwhelmed and so the action is not taken. I get it, but I no longer see that as acceptable.

I don’t have the answer, but I have a few places to start. I’m hoping that by speaking out, showing up to protest, donating to organizations that support change, supporting BIPOC owned businesses, learning, listening, and taking a long hard look at how I’m contributing to systemic racism, that these are appropriate starting points. If you need ideas, here is an even better list of things you can do.

For me, learning and sharing is a critical part. There are a lot of books on the topic, but if you need more of a crash course, here are a few resources I found helpful.

I, Racist

How Racism Hurts White People Too

Baratunde Thurston’s TED Talk on Deconstructing Racism

American Police (history of policing not taught)

In Defense of Looting

Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man Pt:1

If you are white, I ask that you also do your part in taking a look at how you are contributing to this racist system to learn how you can shift with love and to be equitable to BIPOC.

If you want a safe space to talk about what’s going on, I’m certainly no expert, but I’m here for you.

Xoxo,

Natalie

P.S. An analogy if you might be thinking “But don’t all lives matter?”

Credit: Kris Straub at ChainsawSuit.com