Every night before I go to bed, I always scroll through Instagram. My feed, which was once filled with memes, now consists of horrific accounts of the racist, anti-Black and anti-Asian attacks that have increased in occurrences over the past year. While I read these posts, and often take part in sharing them, I can’t help but feel I should be doing more. The constant reposting of violence upon violence is not only sickening, but to be honest, it feels like we are all hopping on a trend. Or rather, to a majority of the people on the internet (specifically white folks), Black Lives Matter is just a phase in pop culture that will eventually fade away. But the truth is, Black Lives Matter is so much more than that. It is a matter of life or death and seeking justice. It is a matter of fighting for change. It is a matter of stopping this pandemic of hate and violence. Seeing that this is the case, I must ask: What is my role as a white person in helping to create change and ensure that BLM, among other movements, is not just a “phase” in American history?
Start at home, in our communities
First, I believe that we must start in our communities. We are responsible for educating ourselves and others in our schools, towns, or even just within our families. This means working with other white people to ensure that we are educated on the issues at hand. We must not rely on people in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to teach us about what is wrong in our country. It is not their responsibility. We need to open our eyes to the blatant fact that racial violence, discrimination, and hate are embedded too far in our society. We must be anti-racist. Simply saying things such as “I am not racist” is not enough. We must become students and teachers of our world to fight alongside the people who are suffocating from the systemic racism in our nation.
Decentering: It’s not about us
Second, while the education of the white population is under way, another point that needs to be taken into consideration is the decentering of white bodies. Human beings are prone to self-centered ways of thinking and acting, which plays a big part in white supremacy. That said, it is crucial to keep in mind that Black Lives Matter and fighting against matters such as police violence are not about us. This is not the time to be self-absorbed. We must transform our ways of thinking into other manners that will benefit those who are hurting. Black and Brown healing must be prioritized, not the opinions of white folks. By decentering ourselves, we will become better teachers and students in the meantime.
Finally, if the previous suggestions do not seem attainable, there are other ways to show support as well. You can take stock of what resources you may be able to offer, such as money, meals, and time. For example, in the past months, many have participated in community cleanups in George Floyd Square or donated money to the GoFundMe page for Daunte Wright’s girlfriend and child. There are many different areas where we can offer support in monumental ways.
In the end, the moral of the story is that Black and Brown bodies are not just another post to share on the internet, even if the sharing is done to point out injustice. It is past time for us to open our eyes to the hate. Simple apologies will no longer suffice. We, as white people, must take action and become anti-racists.
Sage Grover is a junior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, studying Spanish, global studies, and teaching English as a second language.
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