My voice is quite easily heard.
I write personal essays online, and am a proud, outspoken feminist.
I also live in an abundance of privilege. A disgusting abundance of privilege.
Some days, like these ones, a shameful abundance of privilege.
As I’ve watched, in utter horror, as injustices continue to take place against People of Colour, my helplessness has grown.
I am privileged enough to close my social media tabs when the anxiety gets too high. I am privileged enough to be able to lay my head down at night and not worry about whether or not my life is in danger.
When the “Mute & Listen” social media campaign began a couple days ago, where white individuals began taking a vow to not publish content for a week to make room for other voices, I wondered what my role in all of this could be.
What could I do as an ally to make the biggest impact?
How can an outspoken activist like me properly offer the exact support required from me right now?
My answer is — in order to offer my impact, I need to offer the space I take up with my words this week (and beyond) to POC, for their more important stories to be carried further and heard.
I’ll be honest — standing here in near-silent solidarity has not always been my strong suit. But that’s exactly the lesson I need to be learning right now.
It’s time for us to shut up and listen.
The voices of POC are often disregarded or drowned out in the noise of our unequal world.
Wealthy individuals of influence and extreme privilege, often caucasian folks, routinely take up an abundance of said space. And not just their rightful amount of space, but we often take up more than we deserve.
Why? Because white people are more likely to be heard, and we have a default air of self-importance.
Until now, I’ve recognized my place of being silenced as a survivor of sexual assault. I can sing the songs of that injustice all day long.
But the point is that while I can sing that song from the rooftops and on social media as a human rights activist, that doesn’t mean I always should — especially right now.
Until now, even working intentionally for years to be self-aware of my privilege, I have not fully and properly appreciated the extent that my white voice is more likely heard, regardless of what I’m writing or talking about.
Even as a survivor of sexual assault, I’m still more heard than others.
The inequality is so extreme and extensive that it makes me physically sick — but that reaction is not strong enough. I need to be angrier. I need to be more worked up.
I need to actively leave my cushy, comfortable life of immense privilege and walk into the discomfort with my brother’s and sisters of colour to stand with them on the front lines.
By standing there and letting POC lead the narrative, my presence is a direct act of solidarity with them.
Thankfully, ignorance can be corrected.
And the answer is simple — it is corrected through education.
Education involves attention, focus, and a willingness to listen and learn.
Working through ignorance takes intentional action. It means actively closing our mouths to allot the space our white voices take up on a daily basis, to offer that space in allyship to the important voices of POC that need to be heard, now more than ever, in this history-making time.
Education doesn’t just have to involve textbooks — there’s an abundance of lessons we can learn from those who come from a different background than ourselves, and face difficulties we couldn’t possibly understand.
By prioritizing storytelling, and giving space and airtime to the voices of POC, there is an opportunity for us to work together as allies to make this messed up world a better place for all people.
Because I recognize that I am not free until we are all free.
My white privilege is deeply engrained and blinding.
My privilege goes so far beyond the color of my skin, but that fact has always played a massive role in my life and reality.
Last night, through default, I looked at my husband over dinner and by habit, I said, “Life is good — we’re so blessed.”
Then I caught myself — that little moment of absently stating how good life is for me, in the midst of all the tragedies happening in the Black Lives Matter movement and beyond, was the most obvious display of my blatant white privilege possible.
The fact that I’m Canadian makes no difference — the riots and protests taking place predominantly in the US are a global issue we should all care about and feel distraught about.
As a global community, it is our responsibility to stand up against all and any injustices taking place in all parts of the world.
For the remainder of this week, I will not be publishing content. I will not write a single essay, publish a single tweet, send out a single photo.
My white voice does not need to be taking up more space right now. My voice has been heard enough.
With publishing my writing every day being my main source of income, I will see a dip in my monthly earnings by holding off.
Frankly? A dip in income is not more important than POC being murdered through police brutality, and their stories being silenced.
It’s time for my privileged voice to take a back seat, and my allyship to further the justice that is only right.
This week, I commit to reading the work of POC, and learning more about the valuable stories of those living in different realities than me.
It’s time for me to stop talking, stop writing, and instead start listening and reading.
This is an opportunity for us to play an intentional, actionable role in changing the narrative for future generations.
Actionable doesn’t have to mean screaming and yelling — in my case, the most actionable and powerful thing I can do is shut the f*ck up and listen.
What is your role going to look like?