Who Am I To Speak Up In This Situation?
I read and reread this post at least six times before hitting publish. Maybe ten. Part of me says write to just get it off your chest. The other half argues back that there has to be someone out there feeling the same way – and feeling just as alone when issues like today arise to the forefront of the news.
I don’t really feel as though I have a platform for this. Many of you will check out 1-2 sentences into today’s post. Others may doubt my credibility on the subject matter. I am a white, middle-class American male. I have seen racism & profiling first hand. I’ve seen friends pulled over for nothing more than being of a darker skin color. I’ve seen applicants passed over because of their gender. I’ve seen a lot, but I haven’t been the victim of racism myself. I feel inadequate for what I’m about to write, but am so compelled to do something.
I do not have a platform like many I follow on Twitter, and I don’t know how to put into words as eloquently as many writers today how I feel. Others can openly write about the racial tragedies that are seemingly happening daily and not only make their points, but do so in a way that promotes positive action.
Each news station has its own agenda and the story from one channel to another varies, just as it does from one blog post to another.
But you cannot deny video. You cannot deny the sickening feeling in your gut as you watch the police officer shoot an unarmed man in the back, then do what appears to be planting evidence. You cannot deny feeling like vomiting as you see a man die right in front of you, shot eight times in the back. And you cannot deny feeling helpless in a struggle much larger than your network and much older than your parents’ parents.
I don’t know if race precipitated this shooting between a black suspect and white cop, or if it was simply an overly violent cop using deadly force in a situation that by no means appeared to merit it. I can’t tell that from watching the video. But I can tell that it is another unnecessary death.
But what can I do? I’m not a cop. I’m not a lawmaker. I’m in no position to create legal change that would impact those who abuse their power as a law enforcement officer. I can’t make someone to stop using their position of power to push down others who are different than them simply because they are different. I’m, if anything, feeling more than helpless when staring at some of the worst issues facing our nation – and many of my friends & family members. And even worse, I don’t even know where to start.
I can imagine some of you share my sentiments. We don’t understand why certain things happen in this world & many of us don’t know how we can create positive change.
We – actually, I – look at leaders like Web Smith, who bravely uses his voice & platform on Twitter and social media to draw attention to crucial news, racial issues, & important points on life. He shares his faith while bringing attention to things he’s seen first hand and things he is on mission to change for his daughters’ futures.
When folks ask why I believe in Jesus and heaven, I just ask them to look around and consider the world’s inequities. This can’t be it.
— Web Smith (@web) April 5, 2015
I see my friends Kevin Lavelle or Jeremy Durand, constantly post articles & status updates on Facebook to elicit good, honest conversation about important topics. I may agree or disagree with their posts some days, but they rarely will they shy away from controversial issues & do so in a way encourage positive discussion, and not slinging hate for opposing views. They use their platform to talk openly about things most of us don’t know about – or don’t know how to contribute to the conversation.
So where does that leave the rest of us? The ones of us feeling helpless to battling injustice & our voices muted from making any kind of a difference. What can we do?
- Speak up. Every single one of us has a platform. It may not be as big as people we follow or those online we admire, but it’s still a platform and the individuals choosing to follow us listen to what we post. Don’t allow fear to silence your voice. Every voice speaking out against evil matters.
- Do more. In your day to day actions, make those actions matter. How you treat the stranger on the street, the person who cuts you off, the individual who tries to put you down – how you treat someone who can never or will never return the favor is how you create change. Do your part to pour more positive into this world with every interaction in every opportunity each day affords you. A small act today can produce massive impacts tomorrow.
- Vote. This one may seem like one to overlook but the individuals who take office are the ones who have the power to create the change we need. I’m horrible at this. Living in Texas, it’s a given almost every year that the Republican candidate wins. I become apathetic toward voting. And I’m wrong. Do your research on who is running for office, find answers to the questions that matter to you, check track records, and get to the polls to vote to make sure the right people are put in a position to make the changes our country needs.
- Throw your assumptions aside. Not all law enforcement officers are bad. Not all politicians are dirty. Not all pastors care about the offering plate more than your souls. There are genuinely good people out there trying to make a difference. Don’t assume all are bad because a few are. We’ve got to work together to create situations and rules that punish the bad without disarming the good. This has to be a joint effort between communities, lawmakers, & law enforcement. I can assure you that good police officers everywhere are taking this weekend’s events in South Carolina as bad, if not worse, than most of us. It is their name that is being run through the mud on account of a bad seed. And it will take their help in creating the changes we need.
- Be the change. We must be the change we wish to see in the world is what Ghandi spoke and those words still ring true today. Our actions, words, and reactions to evil in this world speak volumes about what we believe in our hearts & souls – and prove if we are willing to battle it. Shine a light so bright it shatters the darkness.
I’m not as helpless as I originally felt. My voice does matter – and so does yours. Each one of us, no matter who we are or where we are from, has a life worth Competing for. It’s time we start competing together for a positive change.