I’m quiet. Sometimes I’m so quiet it nauseates me.
It’s not because I don’t have something to say. Most of the time I just get lost in my own thoughts. I don’t know where to start. And then I miss my chance.
But if I stay quiet–if we all stay quiet–we come closer to losing our humanity.
I hate waking up every morning to the latest tragedy.
I hate coming home from work to learn about the newest mass shooting. That another rapist gets an easy sentence. That a new law was passed that infringes on the fundamental rights of women or the LGBTQ community. That black Americans are publicly executed by law enforcement on a regular basis.
Here..in the "land of the free."
I spend hours reading, crying, trying to figure out what I can do to make a difference.
But never say a thing.
I could write novels based on my thoughts and opinions about the hostile state of the country I live in, but tonight all that I can think about are the tragedies that are have happened over that last few days in Minnesota, Louisiana, Atlanta, and Dallas.
And I’ve realized that my silence is actively causing harm.
My silence–our silence–allows a system of violence and hate against minorities, particularly black citizens, continue.
I can no longer allow myself to accept fear as an excuse.
As an educated Mexican-American woman, I’ve found myself becoming complacent in my own minority status. I go to work, I come home to my white boyfriend and my dog, I grab dinner or a drink with my friends, I occasionally endure a subtle sexist or racist comment...but that’s about it.
Though I consider myself privileged in many ways, my appearance doesn’t provide the sense security that I can only imagine whiteness does. And as a woman, I don’t always feel safe in my own skin. But these concerns don’t control my every move. I know I’m not going to be killed simply because of how I look.
And I know that wouldn’t be the case if I were black.
I’ve thought about joining a local protest or a march. But fear takes over: what if an altercation breaks out... if it does, my life could be at risk; clearly I'm not white, so I'm probably not safe... is this my fight to die for?
Looking back, I feel stupid. When I actually outline those thoughts, I know I've been making excuses. The answer is clear–of course it’s my fight. I’m a U.S. citizen. There is something critically wrong with our system.
I mean, if I don’t feel safe, I can’t even begin to imagine the suffering and fear that black Americans experience on a daily basis.
So this is my first baby-step towards taking action. I can’t make a difference on my own, but I honestly believe that we can make a difference when we stand together.
I just hope that writing this will help other people like me–complacent, scared, generally quiet people–understand what’s at stake, and encourage them to do more than like an article on Facebook or a #blacklivesmatter tweet.
Whether we contact our congress (as suggested by Queen Bey), donate to the families that will soon be bury their loved ones, or attend a Black Lives Matter event, we can make a difference. We can educate ourselves, empower each other, demand justice, and strive for equality.