“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
My friend and fellow blogger, Emelda and I connected this year through the colorful squares of Instagram – and I’m ever so glad we did. Her perspective as an Afro-Latina woman living in the U.S. has been enlightening and caused a stirring in my spirit. It has challenged me to not merely observe, but to enter into – and learn from – conversations of social justice.
This blog began with the intent of engaging grace on a deeper level. And I believe some of the key ways that manifests in our lives is through kindness, compassion and respect for ourselves and others. Which includes learning to truly listen to someone’s story. To their truth, their reality. To perspectives that are different than our own.
I hope we will be willing to hear from more voices like Emelda’s here on the blog. And that we will not only read these words with an open heart, but that it would spark change, softness, and a willingness to advocate and support our neighbors who are different than us. The world needs more of that.
Ignoring Injustice Doesn’t Make It Go Away
By Emelda Coteau
“What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?”
Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence Into Action (an essay)
Our country is erupting. Systemic racism, exclusion and police brutality are nothing new. And yet, so many folks wonder why there is such explosive anger now? Well, those of us who are marginalized because of skin color, sexual orientation, different abilities and gender identities, are tired of the big lie and its widespread impact on our lives.
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It is the lie of silence. Some of our neighbors, co-workers, and even friends believe if they are simply quiet about race, injustice, and the benefits of white privilege, this uproar will dissipate; we can soon return to “normalcy,” and the seductive comfort of denial. Yet silence shields no one, slowly it swallows courage and suffocates thoughts, thoughts and words which could lead to healing.
The longer we allow the busyness of our lives to overtake the need for critical reflection and questions (How do I benefit from my race, gender, sexual orientation or ability? How can I begin to hear others?) the stronger roots of division become. American society has refused to see so many people for so long. And what is rejected cannot be understood.
As I share these thoughts with you all, I am listening to a song, “White Supremacy II” by musicians Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Jamila Woods. Macklemore’s words, his raw personal realizations, laid bare in this track, linger stubbornly in the quietness of my office, demanding contemplation:
“White supremacy isn’t just a white dude in Idaho. White supremacy protects the privilege I hold. White supremacy is the soil, the foundation, the cement and the flag that flies outside of my home. White supremacy is our country’s lineage, designed for us to be indifferent.”
Is this an attack on white folks you may be thinking? No. It is a call to honestly wrestle with the ways whiteness equals privilege and protection in American society, and how, whether intentional or not, it denies the truths of people of color and our humanity. There is not a singular truth, there are many, many truths.
The cycle of silence and indifference only comes undone when there is a willingness to discard the myths and stories we tell ourselves, when we stand knee deep in the messiness of the unfamiliar…
Noted writer James Baldwin once said: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Our children will inherit the world we create. The questions confronting us today can either point toward liberation or complacency. The time for change is now. Is your heart open?
Emelda De Coteau is a loving wife, mama, creative, and believer seeking God anew in each moment. She is the founder of the inspirational and faith blog, Live In Color. Emelda is a columnist for Beautifully Said Magazine, contributing writer at Our Words Collaborative, co-founder of #WomenCreativesChat, an online community, contributing writer and brand representative for Pretty Entrepreneur, a supportive network for women in business, and founding member of Black Womyn Rising, a radical organizing collective for Black womyn and girls.