I wanted to share this post by Jonathan Bender as it really spoke to me (reposted with his permission)…
…I was planning on sending out a different newsletter this morning – one on how to talk to your ideal clients. I will send this… but right now there is only one thing on my mind. So I wrote this up, and also recorded a video about it.
If you somehow haven’t been following the story, here’s the background. Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot 6 times and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. And a grand jury just decided to not indict Wilson.
I live in Oakland, California, which has a bad rap for being a dangerous unsafe place – if you’re not from here. In actuality, Oakland has both posh, upscale neighborhoods as well as poor, economically-challenged areas; it’s also one of the most diverse communities in the country even as it’s rapidly being gentrified via the San Francisco Bay Area’s skyrocketing housing prices.
Tonight, I met with a group of friends in an 18th floor apartment one of them has, just a short walk from my home. We watched protests, police in riot gear, and hundreds of people streaming onto the freeway and stopping traffic. As I write this, the sound of helicopters is omnipresent. (I’m perfectly safe, by the way, and the protests here are nonviolent.) Similar protests are happening across the United States.
Many people in my community reading this live outside the United States; or, you may be in the U.S. but feel far away from the issue. Unfortunately, while we have a black president, we by no means live in a “post-racial society.” Unconscious prejudice and racism are still prevalent. I’m disgusted that this is still happening; the 1992 Rodney King riots occurred while I was in college, under similar circumstances – and this is still happening?
Watching these protests, and feeling heartbroken that this is today’s news and not decades old, had me feel the need to write to my community and just say this:
YOUR VOICE MATTERS.
What you say matters. And, if you don’t say anything, that matters too.
Look. While I have really strong feelings about what’s happening now, I’m called to just use this as a reminder to tell you to speak up.
I didn’t name one of my online trainings Claim Your Voice because I thought it was catchy. This is one of my deepest beliefs: we will create change in the world once we choose to step up and say what we need to say.
If you’re not speaking up about what you care about… well, let’s refer back to what pastor Martin Niemöller wrote about the rise of Nazism, as quoted in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
This is not to imply that people of color can’t speak up for themselves. They have powerful voices. But those of us who benefit from white privilege also have a duty to 1) really get what this is about, and then 2) speak about it. Here’s my favorite quote I’ve seen so far on the topic: “White privilege is me being outraged and angered by the Ferguson decision rather than utterly terrified.”
Do it. Choose to speak up about what’s important to you. Before it’s too late. You can make a difference. For example:
Write and give a speech.
Write a blog.
Create a YouTube video.
What do you need to speak about? What have you been holding back saying? Why? What are you afraid of? It’s okay if people don’t like you. Really. They may not anyway.
But we have to speak.
Leave your comments and watch the video here: http://www.TheInspirationBlog.