Updated: Oct 26, 2020
By N. Heredia
With TK Wonder, Cipriana Quann and Franchesca Ramsey at the Millions March NYC.
Can you be neutral in a time of injustice? More specifically, can one be neutral during the uprise in the Black Lives Matter movement? What exactly is neutrality? What is systemic racism? Whose fight is this? What can one voice do amidst the millions? These are among the many questions needed to be answered for the people who have doubt in these times.
What is neutrality? The definition of neutral according to: Cambridge Dictionary is “not saying or doing anything that would encourage or help any of the groups involved in an argument or war.” Being neutral in this situation unfortunately means you are willing to not help or support the Black community in their goal to end the systemic racism they face every single day. As said by Desmond Tutu, “...if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” If you sit back and watch, you support the oppression of the Black community.
Systemic racism: systems that are built to put African Americans at a disadvantage. Common examples can be found in criminal justice, healthcare, employment, education, politics, and more. Nearly half of the homeless population are African Americans, and yet they only make up 13% of our population. For those who don’t believe that systemic racism still exists, it, in fact, never ended. As stated by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “From slavery to segregation, African Americans have been systematically denied equal rights and opportunities.” That being said, no one can win against a system that was built against their existence.
Whose fight is this to fight? While it is the Black community that is facing brutality and injustice, on top of extreme racism, they shouldn’t have to fight alone. Many peoples face the same kind of treatment and this should be enough to realize that the community needs the most support right now. The term “white silence is violence” has been popularized recently. This is because in order for change to happen, it needs to be wanted. Racism is also a “white” problem. Allies are people who recognize the past and are doing everything they can to support and advocate respectfully. This fight is for everyone who is against the murder of people solely for the color of skin they were born with.
What can ONE person do to help? Many think that if they can’t be out in the street protesting daily, that they would be of no use to the fight. While protesting is an enormous part of being seen and heard, there’s plenty to do behind the scenes. There are constantly new petitions needing to be signed in order to help arrest murderers, change laws, or put new laws in place. Another way to help is by spreading information, petitions, links, articles, donations. One person can sign a petition, but the signatures for that petition grow exponentially as they share with others.
To answer my own question, you cannot be neutral in a time of injustice. In fact, doing nothing is siding with the oppressor. We need to keep speaking up for the Black community for this is not a trend; it is human rights. This is everyone’s fight for Black rights against the oppressors. One person can do so much for the cause just by signing, sharing, and speaking out. Until Black lives are treated equal, BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Written by writer N. Heredia