Hampton Daze: Ask the important and sometimes uncomfortable questions

Black Lives Matter

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” — Desmond Tutu

“This is not a civil rights issue — this is a human rights issue, and the fact that black people’s humanity is being denied constantly.” — Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis chapter of NAACP

“The world will say to you: we need to end racism. Start by healing it in your own family. The world will say to you: how do we speak to bias and bigotry? Start by having the first conversation at your own kitchen table. The world will say to you: There is too much hate. Devote yourself to love. Love yourself so much that you can love others without barriers and without judgment.” — Cleo Wade

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” — Nelson Mandela

“Don’t ignore something because it makes you uncomfortable.” — @domrobxrts

“I’m not black, but I see you. I’m not black, but I hear you. I’m not black, but I mourn with you. I’m not black, but I will fight for you.” 

“A heart to cultivate empathy for the oppressed. Ears to listen to the experiences of people of color. Eyes to identify privilege. A nose to sniff out implicit bias. A mouth to speak out against injustice. Hands to take action and make change.” — “Anatomy of an Ally” by Danielle Coke, @ohhappydani

These are just a few of the statements I’ve viewed on social media this week that I wanted to highlight and share in this column. They can say it all better than I ever could. But I also acknowledge that I need to use my own voice for positive change at this time. Even if speaking up means being muted on social media to #amplifymelanatedvoices, while listening and learning. 

I stand with you. I will be an ally. My heart hurts when I see your pain. It is time for everyone to use whatever platform they have to right the wrongs caused by systemic racism in this country. 

We must remember George Floyd and also remember the horrific instances of police brutality that came before him. In many ways, as a country we need to reform the way we police, and we need to reform our own lives. It’s about human rights. It’s about being human.

I understand and couldn’t agree more with the statement that it’s not enough to say, “I’m not racist,” we need to be actively anti-racist. 

Ask the important and sometimes uncomfortable questions. Talk about it at your dinner table. Do you see diversity in your own life? Have you profited from your privilege and what have you done to help others? What does your place of employment look like? What are your children learning from this experience? Is a business only marketing products to a certain group of people? Are you supporting businesses owned by BIPOC in the same way you’re supporting white owned businesses (take the 15 Percent Pledge)? Have you taken the time to sign the petitions, to donate money, to share on your social media? 

The power and influence that the East End has, and the willingness to do good, is strong. It’s time to have the conversation. Take the time to learn how to be actively anti-racist and understand that by helping each other, we are stronger together. There is so much love in the world that can result in real positive change, but we need to put in the work.

I don’t pretend to have the answers but I do know that I’m here to help, to lend my voice when appropriate, and to acknowledge my history and privilege. I do know that we should be much further along in the fight for basic human rights. 

Educate yourself. Know the history. Learn from film, podcasts, books, hashtags. Be part of the change needed in this world. Because black lives matter. Black futures matter.

Donate: NAACP, George Floyd Memorial Fund, Color of Change, National Bail Fund Network