On my Instagram account, I follow a few friends, but mostly I’m on there to find recipes and ideas for the various crafty/hobby things I’m into. It’s a pretty happy and peaceful and inspiring place to be and I’m pretty protective of that.
In the past few days, several of the people I follow – food bloggers, hand lettering professionals, card makers, etc. – have been posting things that have disrupted this social media utopia that I have worked hard to build.
Rather than the regular recipes or lettering tips that have me drooling or rushing for my brush pens, they have posted their positions on racism, in response to what is going on currently in the US.
I knew that speaking up and speaking out were the right things to do. I had even also thought about posting something. But did I really want to destroy my happy place? Did I want to open myself up to the controversy that would likely come from such a post?
While doing my standard mental prevarication, I noticed that some of the accounts specifically stated that they were voicing their positions because of the large followings they had and they felt a responsibility to not stay silent about it.
Sadly, my next thought was, “Well, I only have 120 or so followers so it doesn’t matter if I voice my position.” Underlying that was the unvoiced (even in my head) thought that I was off the hook. Momentary relief!
Thankfully it didn’t fully quiet my conscience and when one of my favourite quotes popped up today, it called me on the carpet.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to stand by and do nothing.Edmund Burke
That was a punch to my integrity gut. That quote has been a favourite of mine for a long time. But how important is it to me really if I am willing to be one of those “good” [people] who stand by and do or say nothing?
And yet, there I was, looking for reasons not to speak up. Reasons to let “someone else” do something.
I am ashamed to say it, but there it is. And that’s OK. We have to acknowledge the uncomfortable realities within ourselves in order to really learn, change and move forward.
So here I am.
It doesn’t matter if I have 12 followers, 120 followers, or 120 million followers.
If I really, truly believe that quote, then I have to speak, or accept that I tacitly approve the behaviour that I would like to think that I oppose.
And, really, I’m not doing this for anyone else’s benefit but my own. I need to say something because I need to know that I can have my actions match what I say are my values.
This, then, is my first step – publicly acknowledging that systemic racism does still exist and is very much alive. I live with white privilege and because of that I don’t have to worry about a policeman’s knee on my throat. I can breathe.
I need to figure out now what I can do to change this reality – at least in my own little corner of the world.
I don’t know what all my next steps will be. One thing for sure will be writing more posts about this as I move along in my learning process.
I’ll likely screw up along the way, but I need to not let fear of doing or saying something wrong paralyze me into inaction.
If I come across any resources that I think might be helpful, I’ll be sure to share them.
Till then…Be well and be safe.
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June 2, 2020 at 11:29 pm
Good to hear from you again. I too have been wondering what, if anything, I should say. I am neither black nor white and neither group fully accepts me. I have learned the reality of looking more white than black but still being called the ‘N’ word or worse yet, being excluded and not having any reason overtly stated . Race, religion, gender, size and other ‘reasons’ to have precluded my acceptance. I have a certain degree of white privilege and try to use that for good to educate others, but I struggle as I know it only is temporary until they know me…and the mere fact that I have it at all is a frustration as I feel it shouldn’t exist period. What can I do? Actively support businesses from different races & religions, play music of all sorts, befriend and truly be friends with all races/religions/genders/levels of education etc. Love unconditionally and see the physical & celebrate it as opposed to always trying to ignore the physical to see past it. I liked Prime Minister JT’s response when he was asked re Trump’s comments. It’s worth a listen, taking note of the huge pause he took before answering the question. I could go on, but just wanted to say thanks for posting.
June 3, 2020 at 6:55 pm
Thanks so much, Ann, for sharing your experiences. There’s so much in there that I want to comment on, but it would take me a book. I don’t think anything that I say could really express it very well, though. I want to say that I’m sorry for what you have experienced, but that sounds so trite (even though it is sincere). Thanks for those suggestions of things to do, too. Right after I posted last night, I actively searched on IG for more accounts of people of colour to follow. Thankfully, my music collection is quite diverse, but it could still stand to be improved. 🙂 Anyway…thanks again for sharing your comments… PS: I also really liked the PM’s response in that situation!!
June 3, 2020 at 12:08 am
I love you! I am really struggling with all of this right now. Nice to hear your perspective. I have personally witnessed your love for all people especially blacks. Take care of yourself and hope to hear from you again soon.
June 3, 2020 at 6:59 pm
It’s hard. And, I suppose, it should be. If it were easy we’d all have done something by now, right? Anyway, we are all of us subject to various biases (subconsciously or other) and it would be extremely arrogant of me to think that I’m not. So I want to do more than just feel badly while sitting on my couch (as comfy as this couch may be!!). I want to do some self-reflecting. I want to do some learning. I want to do more standing up. I really want to have my actions match the person in my head I want to be. I anticipate parts of the journey will be fun and I anticipate parts of the journey will be extremely difficult and uncomfortable for me. But, at 50, I’d say it’s about time I did it. 🙂 Anyhoooooooooo… Thanks for posting…feel free to share any of your thoughts and things you learn as you move along in your journey, too!! Love you loads and loads!!!
June 3, 2020 at 12:39 am
Thank you for this post my friend.
June 3, 2020 at 7:00 pm
Thanks, back! 🙂 🙂 🙂