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Following the murder of George Floyd, we find that the vast majority of people remain silent and unbothered. From politicians to celebrities to our neighbors and colleagues, many people turn the other way as their response to the continued racist massacre of their fellow Black citizens. Some appease their guilt by posting a message about honoring the memories of those who have passed and adding a hashtag that calls for justice before resuming their life of indifference. By doing this, they have appeased their “good deed” quota. At no point is there any recognition of the systemic racism that leads to these violent acts. There are no real conversations on how to ensure the safety of those affected by the unbalanced power dynamic and the racist attitudes perpetuated by those in positions of power. Many people struggle even to accept that racism still exists and, instead, treat tragedies, such as these killings, as isolated and unfortunate incidents.

The harsh reality that people need to recognize is that these are not isolated and unprecedented incidents. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery did not die because they were unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were killed because of the color of their skin. It is not a topic of debate – these are the cold, hard facts. Until everyone can understand that, then there won’t be any progress in dismantling systemic racism.

If you are able to remain silent or look away from these incidents with no impact on your life, if you are not sickened to your stomach by these stories, if you aren’t filled with anger in the face of these injustices, it’s probably because you benefit from the oppression of the black community. Through your silence and indifference, you are admitting that you are willing to put up black men and women as collateral damage to protect your position of power in society. 

It takes an incredible amount of privilege to be able to be willfully voiceless in times like these. It takes an incredible amount of privilege to discount a politician’s personal views when casting a vote that can result in the complete degradation of a race. It takes an incredible amount of privilege to watch mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers be torn apart by the injustice of the system and go to sleep as usual without ever having to worry about being in their situation.

It takes an incredible amount of privilege to be a coward that believes that the injustices in the world don’t exist merely because your eyes are closed to them. 

Open your eyes and let them cry as they watch the unjust around them. Maybe then you will find your voice and demand justice.

“Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.”

Haruki Murakami

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