Blog post

Enough is Enough: Use Your Voice

May 30, 2020

Don’t stay silent. Use your voice. We need to do better, as humans, to stand up for what is right. This post is about promoting basic human rights. I don’t care what your political views are, but I do care how you treat others.

We live in a country where our voices can make a difference when they’re unified as one. We cannot remain silent and allow more incidents to occur, like those experienced by George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Christian Cooper. I am encouraging you to take a stand and use your voice.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

After the recent and horrific incident involving George Floyd, we saw the power of what can happen when we unify our voices to fight injustice. We were appalled by the actions of those four officers. Across the United States, people voiced their minds and their hearts – individuals, groups, police forces, celebrities and influential personalities. Since then, the four officers have been fired and one is facing charges.

Remember, not all are bad.

I’m incredibly thankful to the law enforcement that have fought to keep our communities safe, and I commend the local departments that released statements like the one by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Good men and women fight to keep our cities safe, and, unfortunately, there are bad actors among them who abuse their power.

It’s awful that those bad actors create a damaging bias towards people who are regularly risking their own lives to protect our communities. The people who abuse their power are the ones who must be removed because they tarnish the badge.

What you can do to make a difference

Be empathetic and supportive.

Listen to where people are coming from. Imagine standing in their shoes. Start conversations about the injustices taking place. Listen to the stories of families who have lost their loved ones. Ask the community what you can do to help.

We must practice compassion and consider perspectives that are different from our own. One way to do that is to increase our education. If you’re not sure how to do that, then look at my next few points.

Get informed.

One of the subjects I’m taking the time to learn about is how to use my voice as an anti-racist. You can do this, too. Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein created a detailed guide on anti-racism for white people. This guide includes books, podcasts, videos, films, organizations to follow and several other resources to help you get informed on the subject.

Read.

If you’re not sure how to articulate your feelings during this time or you don’t know how to empathize with the families and communities that are hurting, then I suggest educating yourself by reading. Reading is one of the best ways to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Below are a few of my book recommendations right now:

  • The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)
    I originally read this collection of essays in a college in a gen ed class I took to learn more about racism. The ultimate message is that no one should have to beg for rights that are an essential part of humankind. W.E.B. Du Bois didn’t believe in progressively waiting to prove himself to society before he could receive civil rights and voting. Although it’s more than 100 years old, I find elements of Du Bois’ mission relevant in 2020 (which also frightens me because it shouldn’t be relevant in 2020). You can read this for free on Amazon.

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969)
    Maya Angelou’s first installment of her seven autobiographies describes the early years of her life and how she triumphed past racism and trauma. With her raw depiction of her personal experiences that span racism, rape and sexual abuse, this book has been removed from schools or libraries. The Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books, and from 2001-2010, Angelou’s book has made the list for four nonconsecutive years.

  • Thick And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom (2019)
    This book was recently recommended to me by a friend when we were discussing the current events. The Los Angeles Review of books wrote that Thick “transforms narrative moments into analyses of whiteness, black misogyny, and status-signaling as means of survival for black women.”

Keep kindness alive.

When I initially wrote this post, I found myself livid and frustrated. I took a step back to speak with a friend and pray for everyone who has been impacted. In times where there’s so much anguish and pain, it’s important to remember the light. To ask God for strength. To support organizations that make a difference in the face of racism. When you’re angry, channel that strength to make a difference by signing petitions, supporting groups and taking action. Remember the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr. that only light and love can drive out darkness and hate.

The Free Hugs Project is a peaceful organization I discovered a few years ago. The founder, Kenneth E. Nwadike Jr., tackles racism with the same peaceful approach as Martin Luther King Jr. He calls for unity to spread love and kindness, and to build up the communities that are hurting. He actively works to build the relationships between police and protesters. Presently, he’s in Minneapolis cleaning up the city with volunteers.

Anytime you feel powerless, remember the difference you can make when you use your voice. Write that post, sign the petition, join that group, donate to that organization – make your voice heard.

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