I’ve been uncomfortably silent with regard to the grand jury decision in Ferguson. Whilst I did follow the story closely, part of my silence came from reading protest notes to non-blacks asking that black voices be heard; part came from not wanting to say the wrong thing; and part came from not wanting to treat #blacklivesmatter as a trivial social media campaign, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge or #kony2012.
I was wrong. I realise that now in light of the Twitter exchanges between Iggy Azalea, Azealia Banks and Q-Tip. And the more I read and think about this, the more I realise this to be true.
Firstly, I want to acknowledged that white privilege exists (before you argue this assertion please take the time to read this and this). The sooner this is widely acknowledge amongst the white community, the sooner we can come to tackling problems associated with it.
Denying its existence, being colour blind, or arguing that white privilege doesn’t apply to you does however perpetuate it. Just like not speaking up about your work colleague’s “I’m not being racist but…” comment actually being racist, not acknowledging white privilege perpetuates its existence: This is because, by default, those perpetuating the problem will assume you’re on their side.
There also needs to be real life, day-to-day, exposure of systemic racism. As this video illustrates, the flow on effect can be remarkable.
Also, more minority voices need to be heard, particularly in the mainstream media. From an Australian perspective, when was the last time you saw an Indigenous Australian on television talking about solutions to Indigenous inequality? Personally I can’t remember ever seeing this happen. But when this does happen (and it should be happening) there needs to be a show of support to give these voices traction. Being silent in response to these voices, on the contrary, only lends support to those who would rather tell than listen.
Silence is the enemy here, I now see that. Whilst I didn’t want to take away from the voices that needed to be heard, by saying nothing in support of those voices I was, by default, supporting an establishment that I am only incidentally part of. Whilst I grit my teeth a few months back at the foolishness of the Ice Bucket Challenge, I saw its effectiveness for raising awareness. However, I did nothing to raise awareness and show support for #blacklivesmatter.
We still live in a world where racial inequality is rife – the facts and figures continually back this up. Whilst I can never truly understand what it’s like to be treated in this way, I for one think enough is enough. This is not a problem that is simply going to go away, it needs to be tackled head on. Saying nothing is tantamount to sweeping it under the carpet and ignoring its existence. Only when we all speak up in support of equality, will inequality and prejudice be effectively tackled.