A message to my professional network on LinkedIn on its complicity in contributing to a racist society.
Over the past few weeks, my anger has been directed at this country’s law enforcement system, one rooted in white supremacy that deliberately functions to repress, silence, and control Black individuals. My anger is at the police solely operating to protect and serve white neighborhoods and property. It is at the mayors calling in the National Guard and private security to terrorize protestors. It is at moderate politicians amplifying ineffective police reforms, many of which are already in effect when a resounding call is being made to defund, demilitarize, and ultimately dismantle the police altogether. It is at the 400 years of injustice perpetuated against Black people in America that continues today.
But today, my anger is reserved for you, my white and fellow non-Black POC peers. We are either a direct contributor to a racist society or help perpetuate the continuation of a racist society through our silence, deflection, and inaction. There is no in-between.
You are likely being inundated with an outpour of messages and statements from brands, institutions, public figures, and colleagues on the tragic events of the past two weeks — with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black individuals whose lives have been stolen by police. I see many of you liking these posts, commenting these posts, and even sharing sentiments of your own. Only now. Now — when it perhaps feels more socially acceptable to do so, you have tepidly spoken out. Now — when it isn’t so uncomfortably lonely to be the sole voice amplifying issues of injustice, you have tepidly spoken out. Where were you before? Will you retreat back into complacency again if and when things die down? Why are the majority of you still deafeningly silent? I bet most of you think you are not a part of the problem, that you aren’t any part of perpetuating the 400-year-old racist system that cripples our Black brothers and sisters lives every day. You’re wrong. You are.
It shouldn’t have taken another ruthless murder of a Black man at the hands of a white policeman to normalize speaking out against racial injustice in a professional environment. We need to speak out against racism anywhere and everywhere. Every. Single. Time.
There are many ways to be actively anti-racist, and not every action is right for every single person, nor is every single action possible for one person to employ. One of my main methods is writing — from writing on white supremacy’s parallels with other systems of oppression in the world, to the Black Panther Party, to thoughts on the radical messages MLK left for us. For nearly two years, I have been posting my writings on LinkedIn on purpose — to denormalize the absence of speaking out against racism, white supremacy, and other forms of systemic injustice in moderate spaces. All have been ignored.
The posts that are never ignored? Job updates. Posts about awards I’ve received. Posts about competitions I’ve participated in at my Ivy League university. Posts about my research work being published. Don’t get me wrong, I am not undermining the importance of getting a job (I mean, let’s face it, we all need to eat), an award received for hard work, or the honor of being published. But in the grand scheme of things, these things don’t matter to me, and they shouldn’t matter to you either. Each of our lives should be rooted in fighting injustice, regardless of the career paths we choose. We should be fighting racism (and all other ‘isms’) as nurses, scientists, engineers, car mechanics, steelworkers, novelists, construction workers, sportspeople, politicians, and literally any profession. It is not acceptable for us to leave it to other people to “take care of” for us. Doing so is us directly perpetuating ongoing racial injustice ourselves.
For nearly two years, I have been posting my writings on LinkedIn on purpose — to denormalize the absence of speaking out against racism, white supremacy, and other forms of systemic injustice in moderate spaces. All have been ignored.
Multiple people on LinkedIn have reached out to me expressing their discomfort with my writings. One individual outright told me to stop posting them to “keep it professional” (based on the overflow of posts I’m seeing, I’m assuming it is now “professional” to speak out against racism?) Another told me that he saw one of my postings show up on his feed that another friend of his must have liked, and avoided adding me as he didn’t want to scare away employers (why would you want to work for an employer that would even be uncomfortable with one of your peers calling out racism?!). I’ve been told by others to temper what I say so as to not “ward off” employers. This is all outright garbage, and I hope you see how it is, too. It shouldn’t have taken another ruthless murder of a Black man at the hands of a white policeman to normalize speaking out against racial injustice in a professional environment. We need to speak out against racism anywhere and everywhere. Every. Single. Time.
To my white and non-Black peers, professional or otherwise, I have some tough questions for you. I hope they make you uncomfortable, so that you can look introspectively and change the way you have (or haven’t) been an advocate to end racial injustice, as each and every one of us should be doing right now:
Ask yourself why you value “success” — a padded job, a posh title, or a prestigious award over addressing injustice. Is this all that your life will have amounted to? Being one of countless, meaningless “success” stories?
Why is speaking out against injustice or acknowledging others speaking out against injustice “unprofessional” to you? If you really wish to be a part of “the change in this world”, why do you want to work for an employer that would look down upon you speaking out, liking, or commenting on posts on racism? What are you so afraid of?
If you are speaking out now, ask yourself why only now? Why wasn’t it when every other person you knew was not doing so?
If you are speaking out now, will you forget about all this once #blacklivesmatter stops trending on your Instagram? Do you really believe they matter yourself, and if so, what are you doing to fight against a system that does not believe so?
If you aren’t speaking out now, why not? What will it take for you to end your complicity in upholding a racist society?
If this post has offended you, made you feel uneasy or personally attacked — good. The most you will likely ever feel is awkwardness and discomfort, while the most our Black peers will ever feel is the pain and trauma of being Black in an anti-Black country and world.
Links to all articles screenshot in lead image:
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