I’ve been feeling an overwhelming amount of emotional pain. I know a lot of people share my sentiment, no matter who they are. It’s impossible for me to not think about George Floyd 24/7 (and Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Iyanna Dior, Tony McDade, and countless others), which of course can affect one’s mental health but we can’t look away. There’s no room for that and there never was room for that. It's considered a privilege to be able to look away. Imagine actually experiencing this, you can’t look away then. I understand people handle things differently so if a social media break is needed, that should be had, but it’s important to not distance yourself from the issue once that break ends. Everyone needs and deserves a moment to recharge (as hard as it is) and then get back to work, and that goes for a lot of things.
I will say, it has been especially hard not to get frustrated when I've seen some people I know and don't know on social being silent (or are posting other self-serving content) altogether and then notice that one day they begin to post about this, because then it feels performative. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that hurts. Another black person has become a hashtag at the hands of police officers. How could you not be outraged and wanting to say something from the get-go, even if you maybe are the most soft- spoken person on the planet or no matter how infrequent you are on social? It’s truly hard for me to understand. Even if you “don’t know what to say”, you can at least start by saying “Black Lives Matter” or “Justice for George Floyd” or just SOMETHING to acknowledge the injustice that he and so many others have faced, time and time again. This isn’t new. Black people have been dealing with injustice for over 400 years so the least we can all do as humans is show some solidarity. It’s not up to black people to advocate for things they should already have either, yet we've had to for so long. What happened on May 25 was wrong. Period. It's not hard to show public solidarity. You can and should of course continue to learn/unpack when it comes to black history. We all have different worldviews and are always learning, no matter who you are but that shouldn’t ever stop you from standing up for what is right.
I of course want everyone to care and I don’t think that’s asking for much. It shouldn’t be black people’s responsibility to have to address every injustice perpetuated against us. It’s up to our white allies and other non-black individuals to stand up as well so we don’t have to bear the brunt of the burden. I just know that I’ve been hoping/expecting people to genuinely step up, and it’s encouraging to see it happen. I have people who I never could have imagined being so vocal and really doing the work to become a full-time ally and THAT is what gives me hope that long-term change can come. Talking to my other black friends and my non-black allies has helped me through all of this too. I think they’ve really understood the power of their platforms, now more than ever, no matter what their following is. There is power in protesting. Power in speaking up. Power in petitioning/making calls/donating/expecting your officials to be held accountable. Power in educating yourself. Power in calling out racist and prejudice rhetoric/behavior within yourself and within others. Power in action. It’s even more powerful to see this amidst a global pandemic. There’s two pandemics going on. With all of that, I also appreciate (and expect) my friends stepping up and having the uncomfortable conversations with their loved ones. I hope that they continue to do that/I hope their loved ones will expand the conversation amongst their circle(s), on a regular basis.
Systemic racism is not new. It’s layered and it can feel that since this system has been put in place to intentionally oppress black people, that it will never end, but I think a lot of people from all walks of life are NOW (if they haven’t seen it before) seeing it for what it is and aren’t having it. All of the community leaders who are on the frontlines/who are doing all they can from home are truly my heroes. They shouldn’t have to do it alone though, it needs to be all hands on deck, now and forever. I can’t stress that enough.