Are you against racism? Are you appalled by the rally in Charlottesville carried on by repulsive, tiki torch carrying neo-Nazi/KKK white supremacist bigots? Are you feeling bitter or sad that a life was lost due to pure hatred?
If you said yes to any of these, then read on.
The problem with countering racism in the current state of this country is that we are too passive. We are either lazy, scared, afraid of judgement or believe that we are incapable of making a difference. It is time we wake up people! We need to be able to say we did something to prevent the spread of hate and intolerance, not remorse after every gruesome aftermath! A hashtag won't save us. A meek retweet won't change the country. It takes so much more than that.
Yes, there are action groups. Yes, there are BSU chapters across the country and Black Lives Matter rallies. But hey! Guess what??? That won't cut it! Those organizations are crying out for our help. They can't do it alone.
Are you white? If you are, fantastic! It is time for you to realize that you have so much potential in righting the wrongs of discrimination. But racism and white supremacy will continue to thrive as long as you continue to take a seat back. Now I know you think you aren't the problem. I'm sure you retweeted and favorited a bunch of tweets yesterday. Maybe you even used the hashtag #ThisIsNotUs. But honey, wake up! This is us! I understand that Lady Gaga had great intentions, but the hashtag portraying her sentiment is false. It damages the resounding truth that our nation does contain putrid, festering racism and remains stagnant in detrimental ignorance.
Now trust me, I understand it is difficult. Whenever I see an upsetting headline on the news, I instantly urge to suppress its validity. I am so tempted to pretend it never happened so that I can “cope”. But no! I can't continue to do that, and neither can you. This is reality. Suppressing the actuality of this truth only gives life to the obscene. Events like this wake us up, but we must try hard not to fall back asleep.
So now you are probably saying, “Ok, great pep talk Monique, but what do you suggest I do?” Great question! Truth is you don't need to be a protester to make a difference, but some effort is still required. Here is a list of tips and resources for you to get on track to building the America you wish to see:
- REJECT THE NOTION OF COLORBLINDNESS: Our differences should be celebrated and accepted, not obliterated. Understand and accept that America is made up of different races and that there is disparity in terms of privilege. White privilege is not an accusation, it is a fact. Yes we had a black president, but no that didn't solve the issue of racism. Sadly, it amplified it. A large part of why Trump got into power is simply due to the aftermath of a black presidency. Opposition is at its fiercest now and you must acknowledge it.
- SPEAK UP: If you hear friends, family members or acquaintances speaking offensively, call them out. Heck, roast them if you got the skills! The spoken word has power and influence. Help shape the words you hear around you to reflect positivity, sensitivity and inclusion.
- TALK TO LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE: I'm a huge believer in the fact that synergy is the best energy. Find people who care about opposing racism. Together you'll generate effective ideas and ways of countering bigotry. Just remember that your goals should result in more than just venting on social media platforms.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF TO EDUCATE OTHERS: Google is a beloved and sacred tool. Utilize it! Research issues and read articles from activists. Understand their point of view, formulate your own opinions and come up with a plan of action to educate others about what you've learned. It can be as simple as a dinner table conversation or a text message sharing an interesting article you came across.
- JOIN A CLUB/ORGANIZATION OR NETWORK: If you are a student, join clubs like Asian Student Association, Spanish Club or Black Student Union. There, you will not only make fantastic alliances, but also gain valuable insight and opportunity. This will gear you up to become a bonafide representative for inclusion. If you are past the institution days involve yourself with organizations such as Safety Pin Box and TREE.
The time to act is NOW and ALWAYS!