Silence is Not an Option

I don’t know what to say. I do know silence is not an option.

In trying to grasp the magnitude of the events of the weekend I have spent much time reading opinion columns, blogs and social media posts by friends. I’ve read so much and heard so many opinions I’m not sure there is a right thing to say, no matter what our opinions or feelings are.

I’m white and with that brings privilege. White people should not pretend to understand the horror and fear that people of color live with, I’ve read. I’m not supposed to say, “But I’m one of the good ones,” pretending not to be racist or not to have racist thoughts. Because, they tell me, this is not about me and they say it’s not about President Trump either. 

I recall hearing from a few people immediately after the election, this is good and good can come from this, because now we are forced to look our problems in the eye, deal with them and move forward. I did not understand what those problems were exactly. I did believe then and now that we elected a bigot and that a portion of Trump’s supporters share this extreme bigotry and racism with the president.

There’s no denying Trump made it fashionable to speak hatred. He has shown this by his example and makes no apologies for it. Quite honestly I would enjoy making this all about Trump. But if Trump were gone tomorrow, the country’s problems with hatred and bigotry would still exist. It is deeply rooted in our people and growing in intensity – for which I do blame Trump.

So what shall we do? Should white people shut the hell up because we do not understand the plight of those being persecuted, threatened, harmed and killed?

Should more white people show up prepared to fight (for our lives) at the next planned white supremacy rally?

Should some of us vote differently in the next elections? Call our representatives? Would it change anything?

Or should we begin a conversation (which means to listen and hear) even when it is difficult – especially when it’s difficult – with strangers, our neighbors, friends and family? Particularly with those who are different from us? Are we capable of asking the hard questions and opening our hearts to hear?

Is there a class to take to learn how to react and respond to such atrocities? Because I don’t know what to do or what to say.

I do know I will not remain silent and because of that I am sure to say the wrong thing.

Opening the door to dialogue is one of the few things I know we should do, can do, even at the risk of saying the wrong thing.

It seems like a tiny thing, doesn’t it? Talking. Sharing. Listening. Hearing.