I have spent the last two months in a bubble separated from the outside world. My lack of internet and real world connection has kept me shielded from the horror that lives outside my camp walls. I could easily turn a blind eye to the news updates on my phone and pretend like I didn’t know. My situation gave me an inch and I took a mile. I blamed my absence on my busy schedule, dealing with my personal problems, and my ability to convince myself there was no way I could help from isolation. These reasons are nothing more than an excuse.
When Charlottesville happened I should have been on the phone reaching out to my friends, sending my support to the POC communities, and denouncing the hate. I should have been reading articles and informing myself on what was happening. I should have been the ally that I pride myself on being. Instead I ignored the news, I pretended like I didn’t have time or internet while I lay in my bed on Facebook. I took my excuse and my privilege and I sat back.
I would love to say this was the first time that I have made this excuse and have sat back but it’s not. I have failed my friends, my family, and my community. I am the very activist that I hate. I have become the kind of activist that only cares when the eyes are on her, or when it is easy. I spent my summer talking to people about what it means to be an ally, while I hypocritically kept quiet when the opportunity to do something presented itself. I felt offended when I was called out on Facebook for my lack of action by trying to bring up my past actions. The reality is it doesn’t matter what I have done in the past if I am not doing anything now. The people who called me out on Facebook were totally right and justified in their anger. I told them I would be there for them and when they needed me I was nowhere to be found. I brushed Charlottesville off as someone else’s problem when in reality these people were protesting not only POC, but me and my identity.
Nothing embodies my privilege, or reminds me of my privilege, like Charlottesville. These white supremacists are modern day Nazi’s who’s hatred of Jews acompanies their hatred for POC. The Nazi salute was presented for all to see. Posters bared swastikas and hate speech about Jews. My people were, and are, under attack. I am under attack. However because what they hate about me is not written across my skin I get to be safe, and I can hide in that safety. People don’t know if I am Jewish unless I want them to know, and that keeps me safe. I have that privilege of secrecy that can be hidden by my privileged white skin. My skin gives me a position of privilege and power that I can use to help my fellow humans in pain, but rather I sat and stayed quiet as they suffered.
From the bottom of my heart I apologize to my friends of color. I apologize for not being there for you. I apologize for not supporting you in the way I promised you I would. I apologize for making you feel unloved or unvalued by the very people who you trusted. I apologize for being another white person who let you down. I am sorry that I didn’t stand beside you like I know I should have. I apologize for not standing up and saying something, or better yet not passing the platform to you and giving you the space to share. I will not make anymore excuses for my absence, but rather say I am sorry.
I make this promise to you as my declaration that I will not be passive anymore. I will not be an activist who only cares when it is easy. I will not pretend like this doesn’t affect me. I will make sure you are supported in whatever way you need. I will use both my words and my actions to protest, and eradicate hatred. I will stop hiding behind my privilege and pretending like I am safe in it. I will continually ask myself the question “What would I have done during ______?” because here is the answer. I will rebel with you as my leader.
I will denounce these terrorists who threaten the lives of my fellow humans. I will call them terrorists, nazi’s, and white supremacists because that is what they are. I will stand up against the hatred, ignorance, and violence in Charlottesville. I promise that I will not let these people’s voices be the loudest voices in the room and make sure that their opinions do not speak for the majority.