Resilience of Racism
The term “resilience” is associated with positive connotations regarding themes of determination and hard work. When something, or somebody, is referred to as “resilient,” we take that as a compliment! Today, however, I’ll be using the term a bit differently. According to our friends over at Google, the second definition of resilient has far less connections to commendation. They define the term as something to describe an object/thing/person as “able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.” Hopefully now, the following statement won’t come off as alarming:
Racism can be so damn resilient.
Weird to see those two words together, right?
Prejudice point of views seem to always make a comeback, and continue to plague our society with a perpetual cycle of ignorance. Consider the definition I’ve previously provided, and apply it to the following scenario: an innocent Black person is wrongfully charged, or even murdered, by an officer who deemed this person a “threat” due to the color of their skin. News of this unjust and inhumane act speculates across various media platforms. Audiences are enraged. The Black person becomes a hashtag that spreads like wildfire. Social media users upload posts of support towards the Black community. This online sympathy slowly morphs into a passing trend. Enough time passes and people move on. The name of the Black person is forgotten. The hashtag is no longer trending. People stop caring. Sooner or later… it happens again, to another Black person.
The cycle starts back up again.
Racism “springs back into shape after being compressed.” Prejudice views subdue when tragedy hits, yet as soon as enough time passes for it to be “socially acceptable to move on,” people do, and they reawaken their racist biases. I’m seeing it more often than ever these days.
George Floyd. The 46 year old Black man had just moved to Minneapolis in search for work. He was a father to a 6 year old girl. He was murdered mercilessly by officer Derek Chauvin. His death came too soon after Breonna Taylor’s; a Black E.M.T. who was shot by an officer in Kentucky after officers barged into her apartment under a “search warrant.” Her death followed the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a young Black man shot by two white men in Georgia, while Abrery was going for a run. His death both followed and precursed countless of other Black lives lost at the hands of racism.
I remember seeing the first wave of social media posts for Ahmaud Arbery. Shortly after, the posts came for Breonna Taylor. People were disturbed and infuriated that her death came so shortly after Ahmaud’s. Then… George Floyd. The online support was overwhelming. White people I grew up with, who usually stayed silent regarding such injustices, were using their platforms to advocate against his murder. White people who I once thought were racist were uploading posts of sympathy, too! White people, who I’ve heard and called out for using the n-word on a regular basis, were showing social media support.
Was this it? Were people finally starting to see the vicious consequences of their racism? When it comes to senseless murders of people based upon prejudiced principles, once should be enough to call for action. Yet this hasn’t happened just once. Was George Floyd’s death the murder that awoken those who ignorantly slept on these matters? I was starting to think so.
It’s officially been two weeks since George Floyd was murdered. Two weeks ago the news of his murder flooded every online platform… and yet now the white people that posted their pictures of temporary and conditioned support have gone back to posting pictures of themselves at the beach while Black people are marching for their lives. Those white people who advocated against George Floyd’s murder are back to using racial slurs in their everyday speech, while Black people are tirelessly calling local officials and donating money to fundraisers. After the period of “outrage,” their racism nonetheless returned; proving its resilience.
The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t a trend we can hop on to appear “woke” for our thousands of Instagram followers. The hashtags have died down from white social media users, and yet the movement is far from finished.
The officers involved in George Floyd’s murder were charged, yes. What about the numerous other officers out there also involved in racist accusations and killings? What about the millions of racist mindsets continuously infecting and endangering our world?
In regards to the success of the B.L.M. movement, the undeniable privilege of white people is imperative. Attend protests to protect Black lives. Use your money to donate for those who cannot. Utilize your power and privilege (a product of systemic racism that we benefit from) for the larger cause. Continue to raise awareness by carrying on with the social media posts. Upload phone numbers and emails to your local officials, or provide the links to donation centers.
Performative alliance with the movement can no longer be tolerated. Don’t show your support to “fit in with the crowd.” Acknowledge the message the “crowd” is attempting to convey, and educate yourself on everyday racism and your own privilege. If you feel targeted by any of these statements, I’m specifically aiming them towards you!
Your 24 hour instagram stories may have expired, but Black people are still dying.
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