Black Lives Matter / ACAB

There’s a lot to say and I’ve been struggling to find the words, but this is my attempt at trying.

Two things seem to be dominating my social media feeds right now: Racial justice and COVID-19. This isn’t to say that other major global problems aren’t being heard – they are. It’s probably more to do with the fact that I’ve got as many ties to the U.S. right now as I do to Australia or Canada.

And on the topic of Black Lives Matter: if I’m being honest, I’m quietly angry. I’m angry that it took this long for people to see the inherent imbalance in the police establishment, especially in the U.S. (but it’s certainly not confined to there). I’ve been within metres of a police shooting. I’ve seen the aftermath, the blood pouring out onto the street. The memorials. The anguish. The lawsuits. The pain.

I’ve known for a long time that police in the United States are not trained to de-escalate, but rather to gain control of a situation as fast as possible, whether or not that includes force and/or murder. I’ve seen them tell one story and then have CCTV footage released that tells another one. I’ve known this, and I’ve been lazy in the past in my efforts to spread that message. But feeling guilty about my previous behavior now won’t help anyone, so I’m turning that guilt into action.

I’m glad that the world is finally starting to see what I see. But I’m still angry that it took this long, that policing in the U.S. started out as a way to control Black people, and that those origins still underpin the way they operate today. Slavery still exists. It just looks different and uses a convenient loophole in the 13th Amendment. It’s all connected.

For now, I’m doing what I can – quietly – from this corner of the world. I’m using my privileged position as an employed white person and donating to causes – both domestically and in the U.S. – that I feel will help exact meaningful change. I’m having more open, frank, and challenging conversations with people who don’t understand the full context. I’m not being overly loud about it on social media, because I’m trying to balance my anger and passion with an attempt to just shut up and listen to the people directly affected by this. It’s a fine line to walk between appearing uncaring and appearing performative. I’m doing my best to forget about how I appear on social media and put more weight into what I can do in real life.

For some of us, doing our best means putting our money where our mouth is. For others, that’s posting on social media to spread awareness and educate the uneducated about the systematic and systemic problems. For parents trying to work and raise kids in the era of COVID-19, it’s raising anti-racist kids (which is arguably one of the most important roles that someone can take in times like these). I can feel everyone trying, in their own ways, and I’ve made a conscious effort to move away from judging others only by their publicly visible efforts.

And while COVID-19 continues to reshape modern life, I keep waking up grateful each day. For my partner, my health, my job, my life. It’s a bizarre feeling to tap into the internet and see things appearing to truly fall apart, while in my home we are warm, safe, and surrounded by love. I’m acutely aware that the next Big Bad Thing may affect us negatively, that life isn’t always good, that bad things happen to everyone at different times. So I’m trying to stay focused on appreciating what I’ve got right now, while staying aware of the larger issues in the world, and making a difference in any way I can.

Trying to be an ally is a balancing act: between caring for yourself so that you have the energy to change the system, benefiting from that system by working for money but trying to distribute money to those who need it (or know better than you about how to use it) – while maintaining some semblance of happiness and security in your own small corner of a terrifying and insecure world.

I’m doing my best. I’m hoping that everyone else in my position is doing their best too. Let’s work, actively, every day, at dismantling this fucked up system and building something better.

“Some of those that work forces
Are the same that burn crosses”

Rage Against The Machine