An open letter about love + action for #blacklivesmatter
I often wonder what our fight will be. Living as a young professional in this day and age, especially in San Francisco, life seems idyllic. Wars, poverty and small children’s soulful eyes are hidden behind brunch plans, and long hikes along the coast. There’s rarely enough time, to go beyond reading the breaking news. Though I’m sure we all have our causes, I’ve come to believe that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is the defining issue of our generation.
I have often been othered for not quite looking the part, having a different experience, for the privilege of passing as a representative of another ethnicity. I’m not even American. Yet, as I consider becoming a citizen of the United States, I know I can’t be silent,
My primary feelings are of sadness, fear and helplessness. It’s not a new feeling or one that I think will go away, yet, I believe that violence against black and brown people will continue to escalate. I want to find a way to better prepare, together.
In the past few months, and weeks, I’ve seen multiple resources, a wealth of advice, and lots of love. I think we should all do something, even if we feel we can’t. Here are some ideas, just in case, like me, you’re not sure that this is your fight, that you should or can fight. You can, you should, and I pray you will.
1. Acknowledge that there is a problem
I thought it was impossible to ignore that the attack on black people in this country could be ignored. Just a few weeks ago, in the aftermath of two shootings of innocent black men, I was riding in the elevator with two people who presented as white who thought about the ongoing protests in Oakland as an inconvenience they saw no purpose for. First step, acknowledge that black people are targeted by some police officers with
unnecessary violence. There is no question, no debate, change is essential.
2. Educate yourself on the issue
Feeling overwhelmed? That’s ok. No matter the color of your skin, your experience, or background, you may not understand exactly what’s happening. It’s okay to say you don’t know everything. I certainly don’t know all of the resources and won’t try and list all of them here. Here are some questions you can answer yourselves to see what information you have access to:
- When was the last time I read the news? Did I reference multiple sources when I was intaking information?
- What are the resources in my community and what kind of support do they need? Who is cataloguing that information?
- Am I taking care of myself, and am I showing that I care about people? Who? When? Where? How?
Showing that you care enough to be educated about the challenges, goes a long way in building relationships and being part of the solution.
3. Show that you care about the people
The most important aspect of caring for other people, is putting them first. This issue is not about you. Even if you are a black person, showing that you care about other people means setting aside your own feelings, and trying to see what they need. Don’t assume that sharing how you feel is what is needed at the moment.
Even if you’re shy, or you don’t want to have a conversation, you can still care about people. Your kindness does not need to be recognized. Who are you trying to care for? If you’re not sure, you can ask them. Make sure to create a supportive environment before you do so.
Putting other people first, doesn’t mean that you don’t matter. You and your feelings matter. One of the most essential aspects of this movement, is to create space for experiences, heart and courage to move forward together. I know I may not be saying the right thing. I’m not saying all lives matter. I’m saying we all need to fight.