Don't Underestimate the Power of Your Voice
Feeling overwhelmed and struggling with how to address racism? You aren't alone.
Posted June 2, 2020
Americans were struggling to come to grips with the cold-blooded shootings of a young jogger, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia, and an emergency medical technician, Breonna Taylor, killed by police while inside her home in Kentucky, as well as the viral video of a white woman frantically calling 911 to report that an “African American man” in Central Park was threatening her and her dog.
But what brought the wrath of the nation outraged by racism and police brutality was the murder of George Floyd, a black man who was killed when a white police officer kneeled on his neck for a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds, George Floyd’s last words were, “I can’t breathe.” America, too, stopped breathing with George Floyd.
The issues of disparity, bias, and racism, with which our society has grappled for years, again came to the spotlight with the death of George Floyd. It is needless to say that for many people, discussions of race and racism are, indeed, often the big elephant in the room. Thus, far too often any real effort to address the issue of race and marginalized minorities in America has been largely superficial and ceremonial. Therefore, for far too long the nation and its people have been deaf to the concerns and harsh realities that African-Americans and other marginalized minorities have to struggle with on a daily basis.
And so, if you feel sad, overwhelmed, and struggle with how to successfully address racism, the protests, and the depth of these tragic events, you are not alone. And if you want to do something but are not ready or cannot participate in the protests physically, you can instead use your passion and your voice to participate in activism and taking part in ending the disease of racism.
To make our society a more compassionate and unprejudiced place, use your voice to speak out against racial injustice in the following ways:
- Begin with self-reflection: Racism isn’t always explicit and obvious. The truth is that at times without realizing we can engage in implicit racism by holding a belief that wrongly stereotypes a group of people. You can overcome these biases by acknowledging your biased thoughts rather than ignoring them, moreover, fostering a little humility about how much you know about a group of people can be a good step toward impartiality and change. Gandhi said it beautifully, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
- Leverage your knowledge to make a positive difference: If you have family members or friends who use a racial stereotype, be direct and assertive with them. Let them know that you do not appreciate their racial jokes or racial generalizations. Moreover, take a step to influence them by exposing them to articles, books, and movies that address social justice issues. Always be ready to use your position of privilege and awareness to call out inappropriate racist behaviors. Speak up on behalf of those who might not feel safe enough to do so.
- Be a positive role model: If you are a parent, do not hesitate to start a conversation with your children about the current affairs and addressing racism. It might be safe to begin your conversation with questions such as “what do you know?”, “how do you feel?” and “what do you think?” about the current climate. Take a step back and understand how much your child knows about racial biases. Do not be afraid of having an open and honest discussion, and if you don’t know the answer to their question, try to find the answer and get back to them. Conversations such as this begin to lay the groundwork for your child to accept and respect everyone’s differences and similarities. As parents, it is our duty to combat prejudice alongside our children while promoting equality and inclusiveness. Don’t forget that your children are the agents of change for a better tomorrow for all.
- Raise your voice against racism by exercising your right to vote.
- If you are active on social media, this is the time to post and educate your network.
- Sign those petitions that are advocating for justice and equality.
- Donate if you have extra funds to organizations working towards ending systematic racism.
Many of us feel helpless in despair situations we think we have no control over, however, knowing the value of raising your voice and taking a strong stance against the systematic racism that has created many setbacks for the African Americans and other marginalized minorities are what you can use now to push past the discomfort, to confront it, and to effect a positive change. Elie Wiesel, a political activist and Holocaust survivor, said this: "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”