We have this uncanny ability to walk into a space and get sized up immediately and pretty accurately. Walk into a restaurant and they know we’re vegetarian, play a house show and they assume Mallory does yoga and that we don’t know a thing about football. People often correctly guess that we grew up in the church and have conflicting feelings on the matter. Everyone assumes we didn’t vote for Trump.
When we have these national political and social conversations, it’s gotten to the point where we’ll say to each other “We’re folksingers…everyone knows where we stand” as if that excuses us from speaking up. So we haven’t spoken up. At least not publicly. We’ve assumed that we can sit above the conversation, speak in general terms of love and acceptance and that would be enough.
This week we faced the sobering reality that unless we say so, we are not making a stand. If we are not calling out injustice when it happens to the oppressed, we side with the oppressors. If we do not say “Black Lives Matter” how will our black community know that we value their lives, their contributions, their rights as human beings?
It is not enough to assume that everyone knows where we stand, because the reality is that we stand as two, privileged white people. As we are learning, our privilege comes at the expense of people of color and it’s our power, privilege and sense of white superiority that has kept us from involving ourselves in the conversation about race. The thought goes, “If we don’t acknowledge race, we can’t be held responsible for racism” or put more plainly, “Racism is for people of color to solve.”
This week has been a week of reckoning for us. It’s been a week of sitting awkwardly with the fact that racism persists because I benefit from it. It’s been a week of hard conversations, embarrassing realizations and guilt. It’s been a week of realizing that my experience as a white person is not the only human experience and that my perspective is not the only truth. It’s been a week of realizing that we can’t excuse ourselves from this conversation.
We regret that it has taken us so long to see this, to speak up and say so.
We are listening. We are paying attention. We are trying to figure out how to have a yard sign that says “Black Lives Matter, No person is illegal, Women’s rights are human rights, Science is real and Love is love” when we have no yard to put it in.
No one knows where you stand unless you say so. Even if you’re a folksinger.
Black Lives Matter. Justice must be served for Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd.