It is more than evident now that we must have the uncomfortable conversations that revolve around race if we are to eradicate any ounce of the racist rhetoric that encompasses our nation. The past few months have shown and uncovered the rampant systemic racism that exists in the United States. Worldwide protests also have erupted to show solidarity for only the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, killed by a policeman in Minneapolis, but the many, many crimes committed by unjust police officers in the United States. When it comes to speaking to friends, family, and others about race, many get some things wrong. While their intent might be good, this can be harmful. These sayings are to be removed from our language as soon as possible, so we are able to get on the track to equality for all.
1) “We should focus on what unites us, not what divides us.”
In a time like this, it is quite evident what community is hurting the most and has been for centuries. Taking the time to learn about the injustices of American culture should be a priority for all. We are all humans that can help each other in many of the places that we need uplifting in. This is what community is all about. Just because you are not suffering the same struggle does not mean you cannot support that person. This is the notion that only the majority-white experience is important. Instead, focus on creating a safe space for your peers to be able to communicate with you wholeheartedly and be themselves.
2) “All lives matter.”
If you need to hear it again, we’ll say it one more time. No one is saying all lives don’t matter. Right now (and for all of America’s history), black people have been oppressed, enslaved, and given major injustice for no reason other than their skin color. What the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to instill is that yes, all lives matter, but right now we are uplifting the community that needs to be held as equal, in all aspects of society. Here is an example from MBG:
If you have two sons playing and one breaks his arm, you would not give both kids medical treatment. You would take care of the one who’s hurt, not because he matters more than the other but because he needs more immediate help. If you were at an event supporting people with breast cancer, you wouldn’t run in and scream “All cancer matters!” Obviously all cancer matters. We’re just focusing on one issue right now, and it helps nobody for you to try to redirect attention to other problems when we’re trying to deal with this one.”
3) “I support peaceful protests.”
If it has not been expressed already, it’s quite obvious that looters and riot-starters are not a part of the peaceful protests happening all across the country. These are people taking advantage of a country in mourning and in pain. If you are more upset a corporation is broken into rather than the loss of human life, for no reason at all, you need to take a good, hard look at yourself. Property can always be replaced, people cannot.
No protestor is supporting the looting happening, in fact, they are stopping it from happening. Also, black people have been protesting for centuries for basic human rights, and nothing has happened. Violence, crime, they’re all committed out of frustration and anger. The government is not listening. What do you do when you have no other choice? You should be saying, “It’s terrible that property is being destroyed, but it’s 2020 and innocent black lives are still being taken away.”
4) “I’m not racist.”
Everyone is racist to some extent. Instead of choosing to see each other as equals, we’ve been raised in a society that has, from day 1, given us the tools to segregate ourselves even further. It’s ingrained in your brain, from the minute you can understand language and think.
According to MBG, ” White people, people of color, even black people themselves—we all have racism inside of us because we grew up surrounded by it and continue to live in a society that operates by upholding racist systems. Racism is not just about whether you do or say overtly racist things. It’s in your instinct to be more afraid of black men than white men on the street, to find white skin and blond hair inherently more attractive than others hues, to view people who behave a certain way as being more “classy” and competent. The laws that disenfranchise black voters. Or the school system that gives up on black children and feeds them into the school-to-prison pipeline. It’s in the accumulation of choices you’ve made over a lifetime that have led you to only have one black friend if any.”
“These are systems of oppression that have existed through all of our lifetimes. That has impacted every single one of our ancestors. We’ve all been raised and entrenched in them,” MBD explains. “You’re part of a system that prioritizes whiteness and white comfort to the detriment and harm of all people of color everywhere every single day, again whether you intend for it to or not.”
While you’re here, check out this list of places you can donate to in the fight for #BlackLivesMatter.