George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Sean Reed. Tony McDade.
I’m tired of seeing people who look like me dead in the streets.
This past week has made me feel helpless, frustrated, angry and everything in between.
I am writing this piece to educate, encourage and amplify the feelings of many black students at UM. I am grateful to have this platform, and now in the face of adversity, I refuse to squander it.
I have cried and lost sleep as I’ve heard stories of people being killed for running, sleeping in their homes and living their lives as a black person in the U.S.
At the foundation of this situation, I am upset that people in this country who share my skin tone are often not listened to, nor are they respected.
Over the past week, I have struggled to find an outlet to discuss my pain and frustration, so I have started to write. I have decided to give, and most importantly, I have contacted government officials and asked them to do better.
I’m tired of seeing my people have to organize protests and start hashtags to get others to listen. I’m tired of black men being categorized as dangerous and threatening without cause. I am most of all tired that there exists a dichotomy between loving black culture and being silent during a time when black issues are prominent.
Right now, more than ever, using your voice to speak out about injustice is vital. We as individuals have circles of influence. We have people in our lives who listen and respect us. Whether you have 300 or 1,000+ followers, your voice matters.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”— Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Your black friends who are fighting to be respected will not appreciate you for being neutral right now. Using the excuse or fear of messing up your Instagram feed as a reason to not talk about injustice will not be accepted.
Being a good ally right now means a few things:
- Most importantly, listen. You would never talk about a vacation that you never had, so why would you open your mouth over people who feel oppression about something you’ve never experienced?
- Use your platforms to advocate for black rights. Posting about support resources and calling out public racism is paramount.
- Lastly, don’t change the narrative. The root of the issue right now is that there are people out there who are supposed to be protecting us, but instead they are killing us. That is the problem.
This will not be my final piece. I will be collaborating with fellow black leaders to continue these difficult conversations, because this is not just a matter of racism — this is a matter of life or death.
Thank you to Editor-in-Chief Olivia Ginsberg for this opportunity. Giving underrepresented voices a chance to express is what being an ally is about.
words_abigail adeleke, student government president 2020-21