Yesterday, two men in different parts of the country were murdered by police officers.
Alton Sterling was selling CDs outside a Baton Rouge convenience store when two police officers responding to a 911 report about a man with a gun wrestled him to the ground and shot him multiple times at point-blank range in the chest and back.
Philando Castile was pulled over by a Minnesota police officer for a busted tail light when he, too, was shot at point-blank range while reaching for his ID and car registration.
Did I mention that these two victims were black? Did I need to?
Just over a year ago, I published a post on this blog “Say Something” in which I admitted my fear of speaking out about the Black Lives Matter movement because, in part, I was afraid of saying the wrong thing, sounding ignorant, or letting any unchallenged biases I might still have surface. But I learned that not speaking out is worse than saying something imperfect.
That day I pledged to start speaking out, and I have done so. I mean, I have a fucking podcast now. Speaking out is no longer the issue.
I do have black friends (and actual, real life friends, not “some-of-my-best-friends-are-black” friends). I have black coworkers and neighbors. I’d like to speak out for them, although I’m struggling with a way to explain that, without it sounding, again, like this is all about me.
It doesn’t matter anyway; the truth is, my black friends, coworkers, and neighbors don’t give a shit what I say, here or elsewhere — they just care about what I do and how I act.
And that’s where I’ve let myself down. I didn’t do what I’d promised. I own up to my failures. I never wrote letters to the black churches in DC nor did I seek out and join like-minded communities. Maybe I’m hard on myself….maybe not. But I know I can do more. That’s for sure.
Last summer when I posted Say Something, a friend from high school challenged me as a white woman to be a better ally because it’s virtually impossible for change to happen in society until people in power help. And today, a different friend from high school posed the same challenge. Challenge accepted.
- I’m going to stop being an ally and start being an accomplice. If it happens to the black community, it happens to me, too.
- I’m going to use my public forums to create more accomplices.
- I’m going to start doing instead of talking.
- I’m going to refuse the idea that the solution to this fucked up problem will come from black and brown people. White people created this, and it’s time white people deconstructed it.
I work at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and every day I fight to keep the memory of millions of victims alive as testimony to what happens when good people do nothing in the face of evil.
The founding chairman of the Museum and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel died this week.
“Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”
It’s time to interfere.