As a woman I am told to be quiet. As a Latin American I am told to be invisible. As a human and as an American citizen, I am told to be compliant.
These are adjectives used by a system built to establish power by dehumanizing people based on race, gender, sexuality, religion and so on. Why? Fear. The outcome? Fear feeding power resulting in fear that creates oppression.
For every life lost in the events leading up to the recent shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, Dallas, and elsewhere, which have in turn ignited protests around the country, and to every black citizen and minority showing yourself and voicing your anger, I want to say this:
As a woman
I stand by and with you. We are fighting for each other and the injustices, oppression, suppression and lost/erased history that we fight to merely uncover. Black lives matter because if we don’t yell it at the top of our lungs, if we don’t force it down people’s throats, and if we don’t create a political call to action, who will? How much longer will we have to wait for change? We need to empower all people, especially those with established power (i.e. people who are white) to stand up for us, our bodies, our cultures, our voices and our lives. Why? Because this is no longer a choice, this is a revolution.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu, South African social rights activist
As a woman of color
I stand by and with you. Our bodies, our stories, and our histories are a political statement and our activism is necessary. Allies of women, people of color and black lives need to understand this—better yet, they need to make it their own political statement as well.
Role models such as those we see in movies, in magazines, and on billboards set the social standards for beauty, confidence, and confirmation. We don’t have that, so we must create it ourselves, even if we have to overcome feeling alone, scared, and insecure. Even in the face of society telling us what we are not and ignoring our identities. This creates walls that need to be dismantled. Allies must strive to be sensitive to that, listen, learn, and fight for diversity.
As a media company
We stand by and with you. These injustices, this brutality, this inequality has been present for generations. Yes, we have advanced but the ability to create our own media and our own representation online and through social media has created a platform for millions of undervalued voices to pierce and permeate mainstream culture in a way that previously hasn’t been available. We now have the opportunity to be heard by masses. Use those tools.
Censorship: a tool used to maintain control of the established divide between power and culture.
It is our duty as a media company to showcase the revolution. To write the history that includes us. To be the voice of the repressed and undervalued. We can no longer depend on mainstream media to represent and advocate for us, but we need armies.
As a human, a citizen, and a person
I stand for you. You are my community and I am deeply affected by the tragedy and pain that you feel. It is easy to say “glad that didn’t happen to me or my family and friends” then turn the other way until it happens again. But what if it did and what if it could? We are not whites, blacks, latinos, women, men living in separate caged environments. We all share the same dirt, eat the same foods, listen to music, breath the same air, digest the same media—we interact and engage with one another daily. Be the change you want to live in now, not once it’s too late.
What Allies Can Do…
Learn about the history of injustice. Ask yourself why is this happening? What is the Black Lives Matter movement? If you don’t know, that’s ok but change that now.
Talk about it
Once you’ve learned about the movement, talk to your family and peers about it. If you’re a musician playing a show, consider seizing the opportunity to make a statement of your own. Use your voice, your platform and your time to discuss and share your perspective, and listen to others. The more we can communicate and understand each other, the more we can empathize with experiences that are not our own and the better off our society will be.
Write and make art about it
As Nina Simone once said,
“An artist’s responsibility is to reflect the time. I think that is true of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. As far as I’m concerned it’s their choice but I choose to reflect the times and the situations in which I find myself—that to me is my duty.”
There are many ways to help create positive change on both local and national levels. Here are some resources and organizations you can contact directly:
Black Lives Matter:
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) #BlackLivesMatter Resource List: https://www.aclu.org/feature/blacklivesmatter
“How to Talk to Your Parents about Black Lives Matters” (Forbes): http://fortune.com/2016/07/14/black-lives-matter-letter/
“11 Major Misconceptions about the Black Lives Matter Movement” (Black Lives Matter):
“Self-Care: How to Remain Vigillant in Your Pursuit of Justice and Keep Your Spirit Intact” (Essence):
Nina Simone Defines Freedom as No Fear