I...I just don't know how to start this.
I'll be the first person to admit that I am not a worldly person. I'm not one to pick up a newspaper and often times I find myself completely out of tune with what's going on in the world. I like to think my aversion to the news is more out of the fact that I'm constantly in my own little creative world and less out of ignorance. I tell myself that, at least.
But lately something has come across the pages of my Facebook and I can't shake the images away. I find myself sickeningly entranced by the story of Sandra Bland's incarceration, to the point where my heart physically hurts from putting all the pieces of the corrupt puzzle together. And I wish that I could say that this case is a rarity, but the truth is that this year has been absolutely riddled with stories of brutality against people of color.
"She should have just obliged." She did. He asked her if anything was wrong and she replied with honesty (not what he wanted to hear, but honesty nonetheless). "She shouldn't have resisted." She wasn't resisting by not putting out her cigarette; she was defending her rights as a citizen and her privacy as a person who was clearly skeptical of this officer's intent. I'm sorry, but if neglecting to use a turn signal when changing lanes is enough to merit an arrest, then the jails of Los Angeles would be overflowing by now. Seriously, the 405 would be a barren wasteland. She shouldn't have done anything differently. The sad truth is that she was probably doomed from the minute Encinia saw her in the car.
Dear white people: please stop trying to tell black people what they should do, as if there was some universal magic word that could be uttered to prevent centuries worth of systemic racism. Let's face it: we are a broken society, and the only way that we can ever hope to achieve equality is by exercising compassion and actually considering what it would be like to be in someone else's shoes. Shoes that have been oppressed. Shoes that marched for basic Civil Rights that were denied to a huge portion of our population only decades ago. Decades. Shoes that, to this day, are often regarded with an antiquated prejudice about the person who fills them.
I will never know what it feels like to wear those shoes. I just won't. I've never been black (and I don't intend to Rachel Dolezal it anytime soon). So while I can't personally relate, I also can't sit here uncomfortably and watch the ugliness of history repeat itself.
We live in a day and age where everyone is looking for a reason to be offended; where everyone is desperately searching for a new cause to get behind. Everyone wants to give their two cents - and LOUDLY. And while it is a beautiful thing to be able to freely express yourself, I just feel that there has got to be a better way to approach this.
This case has much deeper roots than one cop's unlawful actions. This is much bigger than us. So I urge you, white people, to step down from your pulpit, stop talking, and listen. Don't try to offer a solution. Just listen - actually listen - to the people who endure discrimination on a daily basis, because they understand the weight of the shoes that they wear and they know what they want from this world. Listen, support the words that you hear, and give volume to a voice that deserves to be heard much louder than yours right now.
*I realize the irony that I spent an entire blog rambling about how white people should shut up. So...I'll shut up now.