Ever since Mike Brown’s murder… I’ve been obsessed with gathering and sharing information about the #BlackLivesMatter movement. During this time, I’ve been continually disappointed with the lack of visibility of the #BlackLives movement in mainstream American culture which is inherently “white”.
To be specific, I have also noticed glaring discrepancies in my social media feeds (sites like Twitter, Instagram and especially Facebook) between my white and black “friends”. While black friends, neighbors, and relatives post a variety of content and commentary, including news about what is happening related to #BlackLivesMatter movement, save for a few key white friends, I have seen almost NOTHING in their posts related to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This is hard to understand when over the past year a seemingly unending stream of black bodies has been streaming across news headlines, blogs, and social media sites.
And I’m not alone. The very fact that #whitesilence is a trending hashtag on Twitter is clear proof that White folks as a group are clearly avoiding conversations about race…. even those who would consider themselves White Allies.
I get it. Race is a hard subject, and frankly, often a depressing one at that. That said, at some point, with Black folks getting massacred in churches and such, I would hope that my White friends could take SOME time away from posting cute videos of hedgehogs in teacups (I gotta say, they are DARN cute!) to post thoughts or share content in support of racial equity in our country.
But things are starting to change.
Recently, I am seeing more and more of my White friends speaking up publicly about race:
After telling my friend Julie M. about the #whitesilence I see in my white friends post, she posed a question in her Facebook feed:
“Inspired by my friend Ali Collins, I’m starting an open thread to talk about the Charleston massacre and race. Here’s a place for a respectful conversation, where it’s ok to make mistakes, it’s just important that we talk together…”
Several friends responded to her query, many saying they were indeed uncomfortable about talking about race. Many said they didn’t know what to say or were worried they might say the wrong thing.
Interestingly, when I reposted her thread on MY Facebook feed, I got a response from my cousin (who is black). It was like both parts of my life (the white and black parts) were finally having conversation with one another.
“I didn’t necessarily want to share this, but there was no way to leave a comment. ‘You people’ need to just go ahead and say what you feel without being afraid of making a mistake or saying the wrong thing. How are you going to know what the wrong thing is unless you say *something*, say what you really feel so that others can respond to it?
As seen at Roof’s arraignment, black people can be very forgiving, at least some black folks, especially religious people. White people need to educate themselves about what life is like for black people in America, need to try to view America from the black point of view before there can be any ‘conversation about race’, a phrase that I hate.”
The time is NOW. White folks, (and other non-black folks) need to speak up about anti-black racism. Do you consider yourself an ally but don’t know where to start? These are my favorite reads about why and how White folks must their voice to help fight anti-black racism.
It’s time to speak up! Here’s a Summer Reading List for white allies:
Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.
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