Today I’m writing with a heavy heart. The last few weeks have been devastating and I recognize that my privilege allows me to feel just a bit of the weight many people have carried on their shoulders for far too long. There aren’t words to describe how sorry I am to the people suffering. While I write this post innocent people are hurting and dying. Racism, violence, cruelty and generations of oppression are deep rooted in our history. The backbone of our government, and police force and any system of power in our country is built on colonization and oppression. It is our duty to society to stand in solidarity with the fight against systemic racism, white supremacy and the historic oppression of the black community.
In the past I was immersed in my own privilege, I was blind to my own racism and the injustice happening around me. Growing up in a small rural town in Ontario you are not often exposed to anyone different than you and you are completely sheltered from how the world really is. I am sorry it took me so long but I have been, and will continue to educate myself and those around me to do better and to make a change. As white people in 2020 it is our duty to learn and evolve. Racism, discrimination and ignorance is not accectable. Being from a small town in Canada, individuals often think they are not linked to the problem because they live in a place that is so sheltered. If you are being silent when someone makes a racist comment, not educating yourself and not standing up for what is right then you are the problem. We must hold ourselves accountable.
It’s a hard thing to understand and accept. You never want to feel like you’re the bad guy. Just because you’re a “good” person and maybe you haven’t personally engaged in a racist act, you still have benefitted from a system built for white people and against people of colour so you need to do your part to make a change. Don’t get defensive, don’t get upset, just accept when you’re called out and use that feedback to move forward as a better contributor to society.
As white people, here are some ways we can help make positive change for our friends in the BIPOC community.
This is by far the most important point I could make and I cannot emphasize this enough. You need to educate yourself. How are you supposed to stand up and be an ally when you have no idea what you’re standing up for? So much of history is hidden and left out of our academic curriculum and textbooks. I know for me personally, the last lesson I had about black history was in elementary school and I barely understood the information because I was a little kid and it was in French. Until I went to university, I never had another teacher inform me or my peers about the hardships people of colour have faced all throughout history. It is my obligation to society to make up for all of that missed education and teach myself. Saying that you weren’t taught in school about black history is absolutely no excuse. We must read, search, watch videos and documentaries and do whatever we can to gain as much knowledge as possible. The BIPOC community’s lives depend on a more informed and educated society.
Call Out People
Don’t just stand by when you hear someone make an inappropriate or hateful comment. If you’re silent when someone is spreading hate then how are you any better? When someone shares racist things on social media and you just keep scrolling how are you any better? By doing this you’re allowing people to spread hate and discrimination and make spaces unsafe for the BIPOC community. Do your part, call out your friends and family and correct them when they’re wrong.
Use Your Voice on Social Media
Social media is an incredible tool for sharing what you’re passionate about. One post with a few hashtags can reach hundreds of people in a matter of minutes. Your friends and family value what you post, so share important messages and make noise about issues and voices that need to be heard. Use your voice for what is right and for what is valuable. We’re all in this digital space together, use it to do better but don’t just stop there. Make sure your actions online match your actions in person.
Follow Helpful People and Organizations
There are so many influential and inspiring people on the internet. Find accounts that share true and valuable information. Fill your timeline with people who want to make a change as badly as you do. You will learn so much from these people and this will ultimately help you become an ally and better member of society. Some incredible and powerful accounts to follow include:
Black Lives Matter (@blklivesmatter)
Color of Change (@colorofchange)
Show Up For Social Justice (@showingupforsocialjustice)
Ethel’s Club (@ethelsclub)
If you can afford it, donate to charitable organizations that will benefit the BIPOC community. Remember your privilege and how lucky you are to not be discriminated against or held back in your career because of the colour of your skin. Share some of that wealth to those in need. Here are some places you can donate to:
George floyd memorial fund
Minnesota freedom fund
Reclaim the block
Black lives matter
The innocent project
Justice for Breonna
Anti police terror project
There are countless petitions going around that need your signature to make a difference. Signing a petition is such an easy thing to do and can make such a big impact. Below I have listed some petitions that could use your signature
Color of Change’s petition seeking justice for George Floyd’s death
Change.org “Justice for George Floyd” petition
NCAAP petition for the arrest of the three officers who were present when Chauvin kneeled on Mr Floyd’s neck.
Wecantbreathenational.org has a petition seeking justice for George Floyd’s death
Numbers to text
There are countless numbers to text and call to demand change. We’re on our phones constantly! Take some time and make a change. Here are some numbers you can text:
Text FLOYD to 55-156
Text JUSTICE to 66-8336
Text ENOUGH to 55-165
Constantly Ask Yourself Questions
What can I do to support people of colour?
What are people in my community doing to make a difference?
Is what I’m sharing helpful and truthful?
What can I do to change antiracist knowledge and progress conversations with the people around me?
How have I educated myself and the people around me today?
What are the local politicians doing for our local people of colour?
How will I vote in the next election to better the lives of the BIPOC community?
Never Stop Fighting
We must ensure that this is a MOVEMENT and not a MOMENT. Even once things settle down on social media and the news, know that things have not settled down in the fight for equality. Make sure you continue to do your part to make systematic change. I know this post is no where close to being enough but I will keep fighting with you, standing with you and doing whatever I can to help and change. If we refuse to start with the acknowledgement of our privilege then we are a part of the broken system. Let’s work together and let our actions show we aren’t going to stop until we have societal change on every level.
Black lives matter, not just when it’s in the news but always and forever.