“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.
Today I am adding my voice to the ones crying out for justice. In the aftermath of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and too many others, I am joining with those who are saying "Enough is enough!"
I've stayed silent for a while. Why? There are lots of reasons, if I'm honest with myself.
I've been silent because I'm an Asian American who has the privilege of choosing to ignore problems because they "aren't mine." I haven't experienced painful interactions because of the color of my skin. I am neither white nor Black, and don't know where my place is in the race conversation.
I've been silent because there are lots of vocal people around me who have insights and opinions, and I haven't known how to add to the dialogue. Media, Facebook, and Twitter are rich with people taking a stance, so what more could I say?
I've been silent because in my anger, sadness, and confusion, I've felt stuck in how to even put words to everything. I've started typing several posts, but end up deleting them because they don't accurately convey what I want to say.
I've been silent because I am afraid. I am afraid of getting off the sidelines. I am afraid of stirring the waters and getting uncomfortable. I am afraid because taking a stand for something puts you in the line of fire. I am afraid of saying the wrong thing.
I've been silent because the problem is so huge, and I feel so small. I don't know what to do, so inaction has felt like the best option.
But no more.
Today I refuse to sit silently while so many people around me suffer, weep, and struggle. Silence and neutrality isn't simply inaction - it communicates that things are okay. And thing are not okay.
So here is what I need to say:
I am joining with my Black brothers and sisters as a friend, advocate, and ally. I am horrified by what is happening to the Black community in our country. It is evil and deplorable. Black lives are being devalued, and that is not okay. Black boys and men live in fear of the justice system, and their basic human rights are not being protected. We are NOT in a post-racial society. I stand in agreement with Jim Wallis who writes America, We've Got a Problem, and believe that the problem is one that we all share.
I hear the outrage and pain, and I care. I may not know how exactly to respond, but I'm committed to trying. In whatever ways I have influence, power, and a voice, I am choosing to use those to respond and take action. I am willing to listen and learn.
There are some things I do know that I need to do.
I need to help my family engage in dialogue about race. I will help my kids be aware of justice and power. I will help them develop compassion for the marginalized. I will help empower them to rightly see themselves as influential in the world around them.
I need to repent of being silent, and cease abdicating my own voice and responsibility. I will speak out on behalf of those that are hurting, and assume some responsibility in advocating for what is right.
I hope there are others outside of the Black community who will join in. Injustice for some means that there is a problem that needs to get addressed.
Even if all we have is our individual voices, may we each add our own as we work toward change. It's time to speak out.