I am white and support all people of color and the Black Lives Matter movement. Additionally, I acknowledge my privilege and understand my place in this fight. This is not an act of heroism, it is the right thing to do. Racism in the United States, and around the world, is in no way limited to Black people. However, this article will focus on the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. This is not my story to tell. I will listen, learn, and march alongside people of color until change is here. #BlackLivesMatter
What is White Privilege?
White Americans benefit from systematic racism against people of color, especially Black people. White privilege doesn’t have anything to do with one’s struggles. It also doesn’t mean white people cannot experience hardships. White privilege means that the color of our skin does not directly affect our daily lives. There is a double standard implemented deep in the American justice system. Unfortunately, some choose to ignore this fact. This privilege is obviously unfair, but it will not go away quickly or easily so it must be used for positive change. Understanding and utilizing white privilege is using it to activate change to improve the treatment and rights of communities of color.
Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter
Resulting from recent events, many Americans have protested and voiced their support for Black Lives Matter, but many critics have come forward too. The Black Lives Matter movement, #BlackLivesMatter or BLM, started on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old Black boy, in 2013 and was found innocent of any crime. After each senseless, similar situation, #BlackLivesMatter gained online presence and support.
As stated on their website “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression”. However, the clear message of equality is not enough. Black Lives Matter gained criticism as it spread quickly online. According to some, like the former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, Black Lives Matter is “inherently racist” and it “divides us…All lives matter”.
The All Lives Matter movement, or ALM, was a response to BLM with an attempt to directly include non-POC. Even though supporters of ALM claim to be inclusive, they are basically shifting the focus away from the important issues and who is being affected. Non-POC do not need to feel represented in this fight, as this is NOT about us. White people don’t need to fight for our safety, rights, or representation because we have that already. Supporters of BLM never said or implied that everyone’s life isn’t important, it’s just that we are focusing on saving Black lives right now. The ALM movement seems to limit the focus of racism to individual people instead of accepting the reality of institutionalized and systemic racism.
Understanding BLM..let’s TRY to Imagine
Let’s say that you are walking with two children, and one begins to explain how they don’t feel well and they are in pain. When you help the child in pain, would you expect the other child to ask why you weren’t helping them? No, because you were focusing your attention on who needed your help. This is what it’s like when people support ALM. Why do White people feel the need to be included in the discussion when we aren’t hurting? Everyone should be using their energy and resources to help people of color and Black Lives Matter, because they are the ones hurting.
What you Can Do
Just not being racist is not enough. We must be actively fighting racism, and using the privilege we have for good.
- Don’t deny your privilege! White people benefit from racism everyday, but we can participate in the fight and protect those who are more likely to be harmed.
- If you are able to protest or show your support in person, do it! Please stay safe!
- If you are able to donate money or volunteer your time, do it!
- Kindly call people out who make racist remarks, behave inappropriately or do not understand why they should support BLM, and calmly educate them!
- Make sure you stay educated and up to date on your news! I know a few people who have decided that “not being educated enough” is an excuse to remain silent on these events. There are not any excuses for not speaking up for what you believe is right. Read up and educate yourself! Ask and learn! Support! Speak Up!
- Remember that voices of color have been historically silenced, left out of school curriculum, and oppressed in numerous ways, so remember to speak up for what is important to you, but more importantly lift up Black voices to be heard. Don’t tell someone else’s story, just pass the microphone!
Check out Zoe Zahariadis’ article for more information to educate yourself and show your support for racial justice!
For more information on Black Lives Matter, visit https://www.dnaweekly.com/blog/support-black-lives-matter-reasons/