Black people don’t need your awakening — we need allies
White people are not truly in this fight, writes Josh Dadjo.
The recent deaths of unarmed Black Americans have once more set ablaze a culture war that seemingly lay dormant in the midst of the pandemic. If you’re like me, your social media feeds have been filled with photos of the deceased, calls for justice and action, or quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.
What has been pleasantly surprising is the number of my white friends and colleagues who have jumped into the fight. Folks who were usually content to say nothing, satisfied with being better than those who would commit such despicable actions, have now joined in, crying out for an end to violence.
Though I would like to welcome you to the fight, and applaud your tweets or Facebook posts, there’s one problem. I don’t believe you.
I believe you hate violence and are appalled by what has gone on. But I don’t believe you are truly in this fight. I don’t believe you identify with us in our pain, a pain that is absolutely unbearable.
I don’t think you have to fight the fear of becoming numb to the tragic events that have affected your own community because of how often they occur.
I don’t think you understand the fear in our parents’ hearts or the worry we have for our brothers and sisters. I don’t think you have appreciated the cancerous nature of racism or that it kills before the bullets go flying.
Frankly, I believe that when the media moves on to the next crisis, you won’t stick around with us.
At the source of my disbelief is the fact that at the end of the day, you can walk away feeling proud you stood up against injustice and said something. You are not bound to this fight because of the colour of your skin. I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t want this privilege, but
Teach your children the beauty of diversity. Welcome immigrants and refugees.
I don’t have it. So when you walk away, and you will, our world will remain shaken as we continue to wait for the next tragedy.
Victims of injustice don’t need your wokeness. We need allies focused on making tangible differences. Those who recognize that when there is a crime, restitution must include loss for the offender. Those who carry the burden on their hearts and join with us in our pain. Those who are marked by true compassion that spurs to action.
I would like to thank all of the folks who have decided to join us in grieving this round of tragedies. Better late than never, I suppose. But we’re going to need more than quotes and pictures.
Read a book. Volunteer. Fund a scholarship. Pray. Admit your past mistakes. Commit to understanding and having a compassionate heart. Acknowledge your privileges. Do something tangible. Allow us the opportunity to have those uncomfortable conversations with you. Continue to fight when the media moves on and it’s no longer the fashionable thing.
Invest in businesses owned by marginalized communities. Teach your children the beauty of diversity. Welcome immigrants and refugees into your communities and commit to their success.
Make xenophobic and racist language unacceptable in your home and workplace. Challenge your political and community leaders to make changes, and if they won’t, do it yourself. Elevate the voices of the oppressed and listen to them.
To those of you who will walk away, know that we see right through you. Your words ring hollow to us and you have little credibility. Your fight is solely for the spotlight and for the praise of others just like you. We don’t need that, we need you.
To the few who will decide to sacrifice the privilege of walking away and choose to bind themselves to those who don’t have the choice, welcome to the fight.
We’re glad you’re sticking around.
Josh Dadjo is completing his masters of science in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa. He is also a policy research and advocacy officer for the Young Leaders Advisory Council and an assistant to Sen. Rosemary Moodie. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.