Speaking Out and Standing Up

I’m going in a different direction today. And I know I’ve been quiet on here lately, but this is the most public voice I have, so I feel it’s important to use it. I also acknowledge that this is  not a political or current events blog, and I don’t tend to write too much outside of the areas of health, fitness, and wellness. But there are some things that I need to say, and there is no other time to say it than now. I also understand that there are many out there who warn against getting too political or one sided on a blog such as this, for fear that you may alienate and lose readers. Well, honestly, if I lose readers for speaking out against Trump/White Supremacy/Nazis/Racism/EtcEtcEtc, then those are most definitely not quite the target readership I had in the first place. So, bye.

I’m not writing today to tell you how scared I am or how I’ve been affected by the horrible things that have been happening lately, because the truth is, my life has not been turned upside down. I haven’t lost loved ones, I haven’t been living in fear, I haven’t had to protect my family from hatred and bigotry. Because I am the lucky, the privileged. I am the middle class white female who doesn’t have to be worried about being turned away from an establishment because of the color of my skin, or something I wear on my head, or the way my facial features are shaped. I blend in. I can just live my life these days. I don’t have to do anything.

But the truth is, the days of just blending in, shielding my eyes, and moving along have long come to an end. We have reached a time in our society where blending in almost means supporting the other side. Where turning a blind eye is as bad as perpetrating the hate. There is no more room to ignore or to watch from the sidelines as people are being unfairly persecuted and discriminated against, and literally being driven over by psychopathic Nazi’s (that’s not something we ever thought we’d say in modern times now, is it?).

And I’m not pretending, nor do I believe that I can be some sort of white knight that saves the day. I’m simply stating here, publicly, that I know it’s my duty to recognize bigotry, speak out against it, and support those who are discriminated against. I’m not 100% sure how to do this in a way that makes a difference, but I think it has to start with listening, listening, and more listening. Listening to people of color who tell me what it is I should be doing or not doing. Listening to those who have not had a voice for too long, and letting them know that their voice is heard here. Speaking out when I’m able, and not only teaching my daughter about tolerance and acceptance, but teaching her about speaking out against hatred and intolerance. Teaching her through example, so that one day when she’s old enough, she can continue to fight these battles and stand up for those who need it.

I want her to see me listening when necessary and acting out when it’s called for. I want her to see racial differences and accept them rather than ignoring them and being “color blind”. I want her to understand that these disparities do exist and that she is, in fact, lucky just because of the color of her skin. I want her to understand that although she may be lucky, she is not better than or superior to anyone else due to that same reason.

So I’m listening. I’m watching and I’m learning, and I’m pledging to do what I can, when I can. I promise to set a good example for my daughter and show her that ignorance is not “bliss”, it only makes things worse. We can not ignore racial issues, we cannot live in our little white bubble, pretending that everyone loves each other. We will stand up to hate, to intolerance, to racial slurs and jokes. We will offer a shoulder to our LGBTQ peers and a hand to our muslim neighbors. We will not sit down and be quiet, we will not tolerate a president or so-called leader who essentially glorifies the persecution of others.

So I’m listening. Tell me what to do, and what to read, and who to speak to and who to speak out against. And I know that these words are just that: only words. But words can be powerful, and they may be the only power I have right now. This is a declaration, a promise to stop “doing nothing”, to start trying to be the ally that I’ve always thought that I was. 

The ironic thing here is that I’ve been sitting on this blog post for a while now. I first wrote it almost 3 weeks ago, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to close it. It wasn’t until just now that I realized that not posting is just adding to my silence, to the very thing that I’m trying to speak up against. And besides, how exactly do you conclude a post on this topic? How do you wrap it up with a neat little bow and a perfect finishing paragraph? I can’t.

So here it is, unfinished. Maybe someday I’ll be able to come back to this and wrap it up neatly, but until then, I’ll use my voice, with or without a catchy concluding paragraph.

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4 thoughts on “Speaking Out and Standing Up

  1. Great post Stephanie! The key is to listen, and not talk over affected persons. Amplify their voices. And use your voice, because some message will be better coming from you. I write a lot on these issues, so feel free to check out my blog. I’m always happy to have a dialogue. Wishing you a great day!

  2. Steph, I love this post and I’m proud of you for writing it. I think the ending is perfect. We have chosen not to share with our daughter the atrocities that are occuring in our world daily, instead our consistent lesson for her has been this: be kind. Be kind to everyone. William James had a quote (I should know it by heart, it was painted on our wall for some time) it went something like “in human life, there are only three things that are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind”. So that has become our mantra for her. We try to express to her the importance of being kind to all, to everyone, and that no small act of kindness is too small to get noticed. She volunteers at a local soup kitchen/pantry once a week, and we try to teach her that the kindness she doles out to these people are as nourishing and needed as the sandwiches and the soup. She gets it, and to see her being so kind and empathic to strangers is heartwarming, but the world is big and scary and cruel, and I don’t know how long this will last. Certainly we need to teach her more than just kindness, but how? Recently she came home wearing a safety pin on her shirt. She explained to me that it basically stands for tolerance, acceptance, a silent symbol that the wearer suppports others who are different. What a great concept! We ended up getting in a fight about it because I was trying to express that wearing a pin is not enough! Not nearly enough! We need to reach out and embrace our brothers and sisters who look different or pray different or dress different, not sit quietly in a corner with but wearing a pin. We need to not just think the acceptance of others, but act it, too. We try to demonstrate this for her, but there don’t seem to be a lot of opportunities for this in our mostly white, mostly affluent, mostly privledged surroundings. If we can at least teach her to be kind, I guess that’s a start. Anyway, thanks for your brave post. Our daughters thank you as well. R

  3. I’ve never posted before, but I felt compelled to now. Thank you for taking the risk to step out and talk about the things that are uncomfortable. Taking about bigotry and racism is hard so most people just avoid it. That perpetuates the cycle. As a privileged woman, you can do a lot and by speaking out now, you’ve done something. And I agree with the first response about not talking over affected groups but amplifying their voices. It’s a sad truth that your voice will likely be heard more than others, but you can use that to your advantage in speaking out and doing something. That’s helpful for us in less privileged groups. Thank you!

  4. Beautifully said and a great push for everyone. It is so important to listen and stand up. You’re right-we are lucky. We don’t “live” in the world that a lot of people do but that doesn’t mean we should sit by and watch the hatred turn other people’s lives into a living hell (or maintaining their difficult life that has existed for decades or more). Thank you for posting this reminder to everyone!

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