Photo by Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images
This deserves to be said and said again. Black lives matter.
Black lives matter. That deserves to be said right now without equivocation or qualification. That means no ifs, ands, or buts. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers and the murders of countless others in similar circumstances means that America can not afford to say anything else. Black lives face threats that most other people do not. We can’t begin to talk about all lives until those threats have been addressed. You may be wondering, then, how you can help. It’s actually quite simple.
You can march peacefully, in solidarity with your fellow Americans who need change. You can donate to causes that support, demand, or protect justice for people of color. For white Americans like myself, probably the most important thing we can do is follow Shaq Thompson’s advice to Matt Rhule and listen to voices that do not look like us.
“As a white man talking to Shaq (Thompson), what’s the best thing I can do? The best thing I can do is listen.” https://t.co/AXoQesxsdY
— Bill Voth (@PanthersBill) June 3, 2020
That quote came from a press conference Rhule gave today in which he also called for “fundamental change in our society.” This was the result of listening to people whose experiences in life did not match his own. There is a power in that kind of sympathy that cannot be understated. Our society can only exist if we learn from each other. Some times, especially these times, that means listening before we speak.
I cannot say this enough: Please listen. If you’ve never listened before and are wondering why these protests keep coming up then please listen now and you can learn why. Consider the fact that every person at these protests is putting their health at risk, not just at the hands of the police, but also during a pandemic that has already killed over 100,000 Americans. If you have ever honored a patriotic sacrifice, then please honor this one and listen now.
I cannot tell you everybody you can or should listen to. There are probably dozens of voices in your immediate community begging to be heard. Listen to them. If you want larger, or more national voices, then consider the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, of Goldsboro, NC. He is the leader of the Poor People’s Campaign and an ally to moral and just change. Consider Black Lives Matter, an organization that exists to amplify and help voices of color. You may have heard about them, but have you ever actually heard from them?
Listen to them, listen to the voices they introduce you to. Listen to your community, and make sure you listen to voices that you don’t agree with. You don’t have to agree with them in the end, but you ought to hear them out.
After you have listened, you have a choice. You can accept the status quo. That this is a country rife with systemic racism built on black bodies. Or you could choose to speak. Use whatever platform you have, even if that is just your own conversations with friends and family.
Rhule was right when he said history will look back on this moment. We will be remembered for what we said and who we chose to stand with. History will remember the side that stood for justice for all, and knew that all must include black lives. You could choose to speak. That can be as simple as making a charitable donation or signing a petition. Please, just listen first.