Once again, 2020 serves us up a dumpster fire of epic proportions. The death ( *murder*) of George Floyd seems to have been the heartbreaking straw that broke the camels back. Riots, protests, looting, police stations on fire – it sure makes for a bleak Facebook feed. I’m not going to make this a big post today, because someone told me this week that the great rule of ally-ship is to say “Nothing about me without me.” But I do want to say this:
There is a difference between virtue signaling and collective outcry. Now is not the moment to look at someone’s Facebook page and accuse them of virtue signaling – of simply wanting to look like they care enough. When this type of systemic racism is called out, when injustice reaches a tipping point, we can feel powerless, angry, and confused. We can try to tune it out, try to be in denial, we can be triggered, we can stick our heads in the sand because it is all too hard and too far out of our control.
So some people fire off a Facebook post. It’s the best they can do. It’s not virtue signaling. It’s just the best we can do given the information we can. Don’t attack them. The fact is when we witness trauma, we can be traumatized too. And powerlessness is a common reaction to trauma. It’s not a moment to argue with someone about their content, intent, or right to post. They’re doing the best they can – processing a moment in history that is hard, so very hard, to witness.
But when injustice reaches a tipping point like it has this week, it is important to raise our voices – to join the collective outcry and call for change. So the big question remains, how can we do this constructively?
“Nothing About Me Without Me”
Like I said, someone told me this week that the great guidepost of allyship is to say “nothing about me without me.” So whether it is feminism, LGBTQIA+ rights, or in this case systemic and horrific racism, it’s a moment to pass the microphone. All week, I’ve been retweeting or reposting content from People of Color, both in Australia and abroad (because my goodness, Australia has its own atrocities – 400 indigenous deaths in custody in the last 12 years and not one charge laid. A considerable gap between indigenous Australians and other Australians in terms of educational outcomes and other wellbeing measures. We need to do better. Now should be a call to action to improve the situation for our own first people).
I got schooled this week in terms of allyship. And I’m thankful for the lesson. Perhaps it’s timely, though, because I now see the importance of finding those voices who speak out against injustice from a place of personal experience. Find those people, and offer them a megaphone. Share their messages.
If it helps, I’ve been watching these, among others:
- Kevin Garcia has been featuring a lot of key messages from people of color, and is also a person of color.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been posting some great content on her twitter feed.
- Bernice King, the daughter of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. has been posting some amazing stuff, and keeping the torch lit up.
I’ve also been keeping an eye on content from Stan Grant, The Age, and other reputable sources who have been adding to the information by shining light on the Australian situation.
Add Your Voice Where It Counts
It can be hard to do anything from where you sit, and even in the USA it can be hard to do anything if you don’t feel safe going to a protest. But there are petitions you can sign, associations you can join, foundations you can donate too. Whenever there is a cause, there is generally a lobby group pushing for the betterment of that cause.
Change.org is generally a good place to start, or you can Google the foundations dedicated to the cause in your country.
We aren’t as powerless as we seem. We should hope for, dream of, and push for a better tomorrow. It is certainly, absolutely, a good thing to acknowledge our own white privilege while we stand with those like George Floyd, and every person of color who fears for their safety because of the injustice of racism.
Now is Not The Moment for “All Lives Matter.”
Yes, I’ve seen that counterclaim float its way around Facebook in response to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Yes, all lives matter. But we whities – well our house isn’t on fire. So let’s not get in the way of the fire-engines or steal their resources. Let’s grab our buckets and our hoses, and whatever we can do to help douse this inferno. Precious lives hang in the balance.
Just my two cents. For whatever they’re worth.