THE PURSUIT OF UNITY

I took a bit of a break from being online the past week. Okay, I still bought more things than I probably needed to, and I did peruse Instagram, but Facebook was looked at only briefly, and absolutely with blinders.

The amount of hatred infiltrating my newsfeed was appalling. I commented and attempted to educate where I could, in instances I thought it would be well received, but at the end of the day, I had read and seen enough to feel physically ill.

I needed the break to clear my head and to calm my initial reactions, but I couldn't stay silent for much longer. Yesterday I posted this (and I'm sharing it here because it's essentially blog post length):

I haven’t been online as much lately. It’s partly been to stay away from the abundant hate and negativity, and partly the visceral reaction to so many who, through their own words and the likes and shares of others, would seem to argue that some lives are expendable.
There’s so much going around that is misguided, ill-informed, and blatantly wrong, not to mention that which is just plain vile, repulsive, and offensive. I often want to address it, but honestly don't even know where to begin.
There is one thing I do want to touch on, though; a topic that seems to be touted about quite a bit.
Unity.
I read, repeatedly, that people think we should all come together and focus on being one human race where everyone’s lives matter.
Unity is great, and I’m down with that.
But.
Unifying does not equate some colorblind utopia where white people claim to not see race, yet the system that was set in place hundreds of years ago to benefit a select few remains intact, and all the while, Dr. King is quoted greatly out of context (but never when black men and women are being killed, of course).
Which, since we’re talking about him, let’s try this one on for size:
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word, “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that 'justice too long delayed is justice denied.' ”
This is from the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" that MLK wrote while in prison for protesting without a permit (one of nearly thirty times he was imprisoned).
Would you you have stood with this man? Would you have marched with him? Shut down freeways with him?
Do you realize that people today, some of you reading this, are standing in opposition of the very things he fought for, and was killed for?
He stood for equality. He fought against the government.
You do not get to take his words and use them in a way that promotes any other agenda.
Unity sounds great. To get to the point of setting our differences aside, we must first acknowledge that there are differences. To not acknowledge every part that makes us who we are is a great disservice to ourselves and to others.
We must recognize that being white does have privilege attached. It doesn't imply wealth or lack of hardship. White privilege doesn't mean you will never struggle or experience opposition, but it does mean you're not facing that opposition systematically because of the color of your skin.
If you translate this to mean that you shouldn’t feel guilty because you never owned slaves, or because you, personally, don’t treat anyone different based on their race, let me say this:
No one is asking you to apologize for the actions of white people hundreds of years ago.
No one is saying you are a bad person. You’re not being picked on.
But you are being asked to acknowledge there is a problem. You are being asked to help dismantle a very racist system that you benefit from, whether you choose to realize it or not.
There is a difference between the racism that exists on a personal level through interactions with others and the racism that exists systematically.
I would implore you to look into this.
Educate yourself. (I have plenty of resources to share.)
Learn to let yourself be uncomfortable with what you find.
The thing about discomfort is that it teaches you, if you let it. Instead of saying, “No, that’s wrong. This would never happen,” say, “That hasn’t been my experience, but it’s someone else's.”
Realize that an experience doesn’t have to be identical to yours for it to be valid.
Perhaps then, when something horrific happens, like, oh, say a police officer shooting and killing an unarmed (or compliant, legally carrying, if we’re splitting hairs) black man, you can say, “Holy shit. That is so wrong. That cop completely abused the power that he was entrusted with.”
Because, you guys, nothing screams denial like automatically defending an entire profession for the terrible actions of one, and essentially putting the victim on trial.
You wouldn’t stand for a doctor guilty of malpractice and say the patient had it coming because of something they did ten years ago. You wouldn’t stand for a daycare provider abusing children and say the child was a brat. You wouldn’t stand for a teacher having an affair with a student and say the student was asking for it by how they acted. Why then, should you stand for a police officer killing someone when it was in no way warranted?
When we can call out those who are in the wrong and serve justice to the victims, then we’re on our way to becoming a little more unified.
When we can call out ourselves for the biases that are so ingrained you might not realize they’re there, then we’re on our way to becoming a little more unified.
When we can listen to the voices of the oppressed and amplify them; when we stop blaming some people for the actions of others, then we’re on our way to becoming a little more unified.
When we acknowledge that there is a problem and come together to work toward a solution, sitting with whatever discomfort that might cause us, then we’re on our way to becoming a little more unified.
I’m told I’m divisive. That Black Lives Matters will never bring people together.
And okay, fair enough.
It’s incredibly divisive to have someone with their hands over their ears, refusing to listen or see that there is an issue because it doesn’t effect them
The only division I see is a line between people working toward a better future, a better reality, and those who refuse to be inconvenienced.
I know I’m unfollowed. I know I’m unfriended. I know I’m blocked.
You should know I don’t care.
I’m not begging anyone to stand with me that I’m not already standing beside.
But I am asking you to take a look at yourself. Are you part of the solution, or are you part of the problem. Is that the side of history you want to be on?

I don't post things for likes or to cause controversy. I post things like this because, not only is it important to me, it's important for the greater good of humanity.

Unity is a worthy goal, yes, but to come anywhere near it requires dialogue.

I would challenge you to speak up. Say something today. Start the conversation.



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