An open letter to my white ‘friends’ who remain silent
OPINION: Blue Telusma writes that white friends and allies can’t remain silent as Black and Brown people are killed because otherwise, they are accomplices.
Tuesday, many of us who have the privilege of still being employed during the coronavirus pandemic, kicked off our post-Memorial Day holiday week with a deeply disturbing video of George Floyd having his neck pinned down by the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Floyd later died from the injuries incurred from that incident. His pleas for help and mercy haunted many of us as we dragged ourselves out of bed and attempted to put our collective grief aside long enough to make our morning coffee and face the day ahead.
Usually, this is when I swoop in and write some boldly worded op-ed explaining to you all what I believe to be the most valuable takeaways from this latest bit of injustice. And even though I write for a predominantly Black audience, there are always the white friends and allies who slip into my inbox and/or DMs afterward to ask me clarifying questions or share their gratitude for the safe space I’ve created where they feel empowered to better understand the Black experience.
I never set out to be the loudmouth Black journalist that white folks feel comfortable having difficult conversations with. However, somehow that’s what’s happened. And its an opportunity I don’t shy away from.
In fact, I take on these conversations very specifically on behalf of all the Black and Brown people in this world who just don’t have the bandwidth to do the same. My mindset being: “Better you ask me than harass your burnt out coworker who is just tryna make it through their day.”
But honestly, TODAY, me and that coworker are one and the same.
In essence, I’m depleted y’all. Not depressed or even dejected just depleted.
We did our part, now do yours
For over a decade, I’ve dedicated my career to saying all the clever things and cutting up all the tedious data that you all find so boring into easily digestible — at times even entertaining — bite-size pieces.
And I am not alone.
There are thousands of Black and Brown journalists, academics, activists, cultural critics, and community organizers who literally make it their life’s mission to deprogram our communities and empower our tribes to make well-informed strides towards social justice.
We are a passionate, vocal minority who do this work because we consider it to not only be a calling but also our civic duty. And usually, I take pride in knowing I’m doing my part to elevate the conversation and help oppressed folks take back their power.
Yet, no matter how passionately we stab at our keyboards, no matter how high we hold up our picket signs, no matter how many times we make viral graphics to be posted by our celebrity friends along with the latest hashtag of the moment … THIS keeps happening.
Our men, women, and children (who don’t get to be seen, treated, or handled as children for very long) still keep getting snuffed out, often in broad daylight; staring down at the pavement as they take their last breaths.
And you know what? I’m f**king tired of it. On a cellular level. Deep in my bones in places that can’t be touched. And so today, as I let go of any misgivings that my community alone can fix this problem we didn’t even create, I am very directly writing this open letter asking my white friends to SPEAK UP.
Come get your entitled cousins, problematic uncles, and “spooked out” auntie Karens off my lawn! Tell them that they are full of s**t and that in this social climate, calling up the police on a “threatening African-American” for NO REASON is tantamount to attempted murder.
Flip over the dinner table when grandpa makes a racist joke and if you’re feeling extra froggy, for an added bit of dramatic flair, burn his old Klan outfit in the front yard where all the neighbors can see.
Shame the devil even if s/he shares your DNA! We are now well past the point of politeness and it is time for YOU to disrupt that Lilly white bubble your kinfolks keep retreating to after killing us.
But don’t you DARE, in 2020, hide behind your face mask and convince yourself that it’s ok to remain silent. Because if you do, in my eyes you are complicit in this mess. A mute accomplice, but an accomplice nonetheless. And no amount of “but I’m a liberal, I just don’t know what to say” rhetoric is going to make me see otherwise.
Cowards like you are how we got here in the first place. No more excuses. SAY SOMETHING BEFORE THEY KILL ANY MORE OF US.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go log off and let myself cry for the third time today while I try to reconcile why I even have to say any of this to begin with.
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Blue Telusma is a Senior Writer at theGrio, whose viral think pieces have been featured on CNN, HuffPost, Buzzfeed, USA Today, BET and several other national news outlets. Her work mainly focuses on dissecting pop culture, promoting emotional intelligence and fostering activism through the arts.
Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric