I am a white cis-gendered male and have a privilege that many people of color do not.
I can safely run down a street and not get shot (Ahmaud Arbery).
I can sleep in my apartment and not get shot (Breonna Taylor).
I can wear a hoody and not get shot (Trayvon Martin).
Yet, that is not the case for many Americans. It is an issue that needs to be brought to light. Racism runs rampant, and there has been little change since the civil rights movement in the 1960s. A group of people is screaming for help, and still, the government tries to silence their voices.
Protests and riots ignite the streets of the United States. People argue whether the demonstrations are constitutional or discrediting the movement for which people are fighting. I believe the issues are far deeper than just a protest over the death of George Floyd but over the death of many.
Systemically, people of color in the US are oppressed and treated as less than human. Our current political climate showcases this more than ever. According to Americanprogress.org, “(American) policy decisions concentrated workers of color in chronically undervalued occupations, institutionalized racial disparities in wages and benefits, and perpetuated employment discrimination” (2019).
Black Lives Matter:
Black Lives Matter is everywhere in the news lately, but people do not seem to understand what it means.
I’ll admit, in 2013, when the movement started, I lived in the space of ignorance. I mindlessly discredited the movement claiming “all lives matter.” I did not realize the harm I was partaking in with that statement until I had friends paint the whole picture for me. And the truth: I’ll never fully understand the struggle of those born into oppression, but I can be a voice for the voiceless.
What is Black Lives Matter?
It is a movement to end violence against black communities and, on a higher level, end violence for all people of color. It is an organization fighting for freedom and justice for black people. They bring to light the darkness in the united states in hopes of ending it. You can read more about it here.
The most natural response to black lives matter is all lives matter—that statement is cancer to the movement and a symbol of the ingrained racism within the nation. Like a microaggression, it discredits the movement and tries to silence the voices of the hurting communities. BLM is fighting for all lives, and until black lives are treated equally, all lives do not matter to the eyes of society.
What Can I Do?:
I am just one person.
How can I make a change to a system created to oppress groups of people?
We, as writers, have the most crucial job in fighting oppression. We are the record keepers, the voices, the stories; writers hold the key to bring the fight to the most eyes.The victors write history, but so too, do the poets, novelists, essayists, journalists, novelists. We all have parts to play.
Words are powerful tools that inspire and motivate people to take action. They inform the world of the events happening behind closed doors. The pen educates and eradicates, leaving everything behind for future generations to continue to learn from the past. It allows us to see from the eyes of another and share the pains they felt.
In this article from The Nation, we experience moving to New York City as a black male and feeling fear from the NYPD as they stalk the trains searching for people that look like you.
Writing brings awareness; writing starts conversations and leads to change.
What can we do?
Share your stories of oppression! Tell the world what it feels like to walk the streets as a person of color.
Maybe, you, too, are white and cannot speak from a place of hurt. That is okay. Be a voice to bring awareness. Tell your story about how you saw the oppression, came to terms with your privilege and can use it to dismantle the system.
Protests, Riots, & Writing:
(credit T1J on youtube)
The most prevalent conversation I see going around is arguments for peaceful protests, riots, and which is the right approach. I believe both have their place and need to happen to create change.
Peaceful protests include mass gatherings and demonstrations in the streets of major cities to bring light to an issue within the culture of said society.
Riots occur when groups of people, tired of being ignored, let out their anger and hit governments where it hurts: economically.
Protesting makes people uncomfortable.
That is the point.
It disrupts the status quo to bring awareness to why change must occur. If the voices of the people are so united that life cannot go as normal, then there is a problem in the system. Change is not a question of if, but when.
Not everyone can go to protests, and with the police brutality happening at said protests, I can see why one wouldn’t want to go.
Yet, how then can one help?
How do you get your voice heard?
That is the power of writing. Write to your congressman and officials, write to your peers and collages. Get your thoughts onto the page and share it! The world is hurting right now. People are dying, and change is not complete. Write memoirs showcasing the issues in society. Share the stories of your friends and families (with their permission) and get their voices heard. Submit to magazines, start a blog, get the word out!
We, as writers, begin the discussions that need to be had. Start by commenting below and sharing your stories!
C. D. Baron
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