Words. There are too many of them flying around, and also not nearly enough to adequately describe these days.
I scroll the feeds and see anger, sorrow, shock, despair. The emotions run deep, and even people who’ve never said a word publically about race feel compelled to say something.
A man was murdered by a policeman before our very eyes, and White America was bored enough to finally pay attention, and suddenly, we care. On one level, it’s heartening to see such broad support for the pain caused by the racism of our country. I’d rather the masses say something over nothing. But on another level, all the words flying around right now sink the ache of racism deep to my bones. As I listen, I can’t stop wondering if these newly awoken voices care enough to actually change for the long haul.
It’s one thing to post an MLK quote on social media; it’s another to deeply educate yourself about something you don’t understand.
It’s one thing to turn your screen black on Tuesday; it’s another to bend your life in a direction toward the ‘other’.
It’s one thing to publish a statement of support; it’s another to reshape hiring practices, institutional cultures, and orient systems toward supporting both members and leaders from diverse backgrounds.
It’s one thing to hold a sign on the corner for a day; it’s another to teach our children how to right injustice in the world for the span of their entire lives.
It’s one thing to sign a one-time petition; it’s another to support a movement on a regular basis that consistently advocates for the rights of the marginalized.
If we truly mean what we’re currently saying on social media, we need to be there for the long haul or our words will mean nothing. As the headlines fade, white guilt will creep in, and those who spoke out so confidently against racial injustice will quietly shrink back because they don’t know what to do next. To move forward, we must travel the long, bumpy road that builds the perseverance and character for the hope we now proclaim to actually mean something.
Let it be this time that those we sincerely desire to support aren’t once again left asking where we went, but rather, how we learned to stay.