I have been debating with myself about blogging. Not because I have any hesitation about what’s right or wrong, but because it feels like mine isn’t the voice that should be speaking right now. I don’t want to take up airtime or energy or distract from those who have better words, more important stories, or are on the forefront of this conversation. But it’s also vital that I not remain silent, and that I make it clear to any and everyone I know where I stand.
The world is on fire right now. As if the global pandemic weren’t bad enough, we’re now also confronted (yet again) by the brutality and violence of systemic racism in America. It’s horrific and makes me feel like I could start crying and never stop. It also makes me think about my own privilege.
I am a white woman. I went to private schools for my education, first in NYC and then in The Netherlands. Sure, I went to diverse schools, especially the international school I attended in The Hague, but everyone in those institutions had plenty of privilege, too. I went to a creative arts summer camp all through my adolescence. I got my bachelor’s and master’s without accruing any student loans or debt. For the start of my life, that’s a whole lot of privilege – it’s not to say that I never had hard times or struggles, but they were not because of the color of my skin or lack of access to amazing opportunities.
Now, yes, I’m married to someone from another country, but for anyone on the outside looking in, we are about as mainstream as can be. A cishet white couple with a blonde, blue-eyed child, living in the suburbs. If life had turned out differently, if relationships had taken different turns, I might have ended up with a black man, or a woman, or a man who started life as a woman. I have loved or been drawn to a range of people in my life, and continue to have a diverse range of influences and friendships. It boggles my mind how different my life would be if I had ended up with someone other than Dean – not just because I love him and our life together, but also because of the terrible racism or discrimination that I might now see or experience.
At this point, I’m just trying to figure out how I can be a worthwhile ally. I’ve written before about ways I try to help and use my voice to change politics, but it’s not always easy. I simply don’t feel like I should go to marches – not when it means potentially putting my family at risk. But that doesn’t mean I can be silent. If you’re wondering what you can do, other than physically showing up to protests, here are some ideas.
- Donate. Personally, this one isn’t an option for us right now. While I’m still able to work from home during the pandemic, we don’t have as much expendable income as we used to. That said, feel free to donate your time to help – volunteer for location organizations by sharing your interpretation skills, graphic design, or community management capabilities.
- Sign petitions and spread the word. Whether you officially sign up to make calls or send text for an organization or political party, or you simply use your existing platform on social media to share your feelings and concerns, use your voice and raise awareness.
- Read, share, signal boost. It’s hard to read or watch what’s going on. It’s devastating, and sometimes we need to take a break to breathe and decompress. But it’s important to read and share when you can. By adding to the traffic, likes, or shares on content, it sends the message to content creators, news channels, and policymakers that this is important to even more people.
- Follow a range of voices. Want insight into what other people are thinking and feeling? You’ll need to listen to voices outside of your daily echo chamber. I suggest starting with creators and politicians who you like and then expanding that to people they share content from. You’ll find the people who resonate with you while also boosting their reach.
- Talk to your friends and family. Dean and I were talking about what’s going on, and Harley asked what we were talking about, so I told her. It’s something that I’m still working on – I’m not 100% sure how to talk with her about racism, sexism, or discrimination in general. I answer her questions honestly, but it’s hard to know how to explain things or have the conversation. I’ve been pointed to a few books on the subject, so will hopefully be able to share more soon. Share your views, make it clear that you are anti-racist. Call out your friends or family on language or behavior you won’t accept, and ask them to call you out, too – we all need to learn and grow. None of us are perfect, but we can all work towards being better.
What did I miss or get wrong? Please let me know in the comments so that I can use my voice and platform to help even more.
Header image by sacrée frangine.