If I stay silent, then I’m an oppressor too

I’ve watched both of the videos. The ones where police, in two different states, shoot two black men within 24 hours.

Two black men, who for all intents and purposes, we’re not posing a risk or a threat in either situation.

It’s fucking sick.

And, I have to say, that after I watched Miss Reynolds live stream video of her fianceé, Philando, dying of gunshot wounds in their car and the video of Alton Sterling being shot, I felt a bit traumatized. I was stunned. And disgusted.

How can this keep happening? When will it end? And how?

But, really, folks. What the hell have I done about it? What can I do about it?

You see, I am privileged. But, I also know that it is up to me to use my privileged status for good. To not just read and be aware, but to actually make a difference.

And I’m starting with this blog post. By sharing a bit of inspiration.

My friends, listen to this song by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Follow along with the lyrics. And really ponder with me how we can do more.

Because, friends, when one human suffers, we all suffer. We cannot just sit back and do nothing until something directly affects our lives. We must care for each other. Talk with each other. And, for god’s sake, listen to each other.

So, listen here. And let these words inspire and move us to some sort of action in our lives.

Because our black brothers and sisters need us to help bring about a change.

“White Privilege II”(Macklemore with Ryan Lewis)

Pulled into the parking lot, parked it

Zipped up my parka, joined the procession of marchers

In my head like, “Is this awkward, should I even be here marching?”

Thinking if they can’t, how can I breathe?

Thinking that they chant, what do I sing?

I want to take a stance cause we are not free

And then I thought about it, we are not we

Am I in the outside looking in, or am I in the inside looking out?

Is it my place to give my two cents

Or should I stand on the side and shut my mouth? No justice, no peace

Okay, I’m saying that they’re chanting out, “Black lives matter”, but I don’t say it back

Is it okay for me to say? I don’t know, so I watch and stand

In front of a line of police that look the same as me

Only separated by a badge, a baton, a can of Mace, a mask

A shield, a gun with gloves and hands that gives an alibi

In case somebody dies behind a bullet that flies out of the 9

Takes another child’s life on sight

Blood in the streets, no justice, no peace

No racist police, no rest ’til we’re free

There’s blood in the streets, no justice, no peace

No racist police, no rest ’til we’re free

Blood in the streets, no justice, no peace

No racist police, no rest ’til we’re free

There’s blood in the streets, no justice, no peace

No racist police, no rest ’til we’re free

(Ben, think about it)

You’ve exploited and stolen the music, the moment

The magic, the passion, the fashion, you toy with

The culture was never yours to make better

You’re Miley, you’re Elvis, you’re Iggy Azalea

Fake and so plastic, you’ve heisted the magic

You’ve taken the drums and the accent you rapped in

You’re branded “hip-hop”, it’s so fascist and backwards

That Grandmaster Flash’d go slap it, you bastard

All the money that you made

All the watered down pop bullshit version of the culture, pal

Go buy a big-ass lawn, go with your big-ass house

Get a big-ass fence, keep people out

It’s all stubborn, anyway, can’t you see that now?

There’s no way for you to even that out

You can join the march, protest, scream and shout

Get on Twitter, hashtag and seem like you’re down

But they see through it all, people believe you now?

You said publicly, “Rest in peace, Mike Brown”

You speak about equality, but do you really mean it?

Are you marching for freedom, or when it’s convenient?

Want people to like you, want to be accepted

That’s probably why you are out here protesting

Don’t think for a second you don’t have incentive

Is this about you, well, then what’s your intention?

What’s the intention? What’s the intention?

Psst, I totally get it, you’re by yourself

And the last thing you want to do is take a picture

But seriously, my little girl loves you

She’s always singing, “I’m gonna pop some tags”

I’m not kidding, my oldest, you even got him to go thrifting

And “One Love”, oh, my God, that song – brilliant

Their aunt is gay, when that song came out

My son told his whole class he was actually proud

That’s so cool, look what you’re accomplishing

Even an old mom like me likes it cause it’s positive

You’re the only hip-hop that I let my kids listen to

Cause you get it, all that negative stuff isn’t cool

Yeah, like all the guns and the drugs

The bitches and the hoes and the gangs and the thugs

Even the protest outside – so sad and so dumb

If a cop pulls you over, it’s your fault if you run


So, they feel that the police are discriminating against the, the black people?

I have an advantage? Why? Cause I’m white? What? Haha. No. People nowadays are just pussies.

Like, this is the generation to be offended by everything.

Black Lives Matter thing is a reason to take arms up over perceived slights.

I’m not prejudiced, I just-. 99% of the time across this country, the police are doing their job properly

Damn, a lot of opinions, a lot of confusion, a lot of resentment

Some of us scared, some of us defensive

And most of us aren’t even paying attention

It seems like we’re more concerned with being called racist

Than we actually are with racism

I’ve heard that silences are action and God knows that I’ve been passive

What if I actually read a article, actually had a dialogue

Actually looked at myself, actually got involved?

If I’m aware of my privilege and do nothing at all, I don’t know

Hip-hop has always been political, yes

It’s the reason why this music connects

So what the fuck has happened to my voice if I stay silent when black people are dying

Then I’m trying to be politically correct?

I can book a whole tour, sell out the tickets

Rap entrepreneur, built his own business

If I’m only in this for my own self-interest, not the culture that gave me a voice to begin with

Then this isn’t authentic, it is just a gimmick

The DIY underdog, so independent

But the one thing the American dream fails to mention

Is I was many steps ahead to begin with

My skin matches the hero, likeness, the image

America feels safe with my music in their systems

And it’s suited me perfect, the role, I’ve fulfilled it

And if I’m the hero, you know who gets cast as the villain

White supremacy isn’t just a white dude in Idaho

White supremacy protects the privilege I hold

White supremacy is the soil, the foundation, the cement and the flag that flies outside of my home

White supremacy is our country’s lineage, designed for us to be indifferent

My success is the product of the same system that let off Darren Wilson. Guilty

We want to dress like, walk like, talk like, dance like, yet we just stand by

We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?

We want to dress like, walk like, talk like, dance like, yet we just stand by

We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?

Black Lives Matter, to use an analogy, is like if there was a subdivision and a house was on fire.

The fire department wouldn’t show up and start putting water on all the houses because all houses matter.

They would show up and they would turn their water on the house that is burning

Because that’s the house that needs the help the most.

My generation’s taken on the torch of a very age-old fight for black liberation,

But also liberation for everyone, and injustice anywhere is still injustice everywhere.

The best thing white people can do is talk to each other.

And having those very difficult, very painful conversations with your parents, with your family members.

I think one of the critical questions for white people in this society is what are you willing to risk,

What are you willing to sacrifice to create a more just society?

[Jamila Woods:]

Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury

Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury

Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury

Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury

What I got for me, it is for me

Why we may, we may to set us free

What I got for me, it is for me

Why we may, we may to set us free

What I got for me, it is for me

Why we may, we may to set us free

xoxo. liz. 

3 thoughts on “If I stay silent, then I’m an oppressor too

  1. Wow. thank you for sharing this. And then, it got worse, not better.

    So sad, tragic. And at the crux of it — All humans matter. All beings matter. Earth matters.

    and it matters what we do next.

  2. Liz, thank you for sharing these lyrics and also your own thoughts. As people born into privilege and who continue to benefit from the status quo, it can be difficult to find ways to express and protest (“Is it ok to say it?”) and – on a personal level for each of us – to not feel like frauds and hypocrites. How to do we use our privilege and be effective when “we are not we?” How do we act authentically, from a place of love while recognizing that we don’t – can’t – really understand? But how do we speak up anyway, using our positions, from because to not do so makes us complicit? So many tough questions and nobody wants to talk about it: “Some of us are scared, some of us are defensive, and some of us aren’t even paying attention.”

    Thank you for adding to and enhancing the thus-far paltry conversation, Liz. I don’t have answers to these and all the other questions, but as usual, your post has made me think more deeply, and has raised a bunch of new questions I’m mulling over as I write this. I don’t have a great response (but I will respond) to (privileged, white) people who say to me that everyone is equal and have the same opportunities, or people who say that I act from or that my beliefs stem from a sense of misplaced guilt. Because I don’t know from personal experience what it’s like to be anything but privileged and I don’t know how to explain what it’s like to be discriminated against, to be assumed guilty, to not be given the benefit of the doubt because it’s never happened to me. But while I can point out to these people that their dismissal of a real problem is a convenient excuse for inaction and basically an easy way out (since they can rest comfortably knowing that their opinion is still in the majority), it rings hollow and it makes me question how I can speak from a place of what I DO know and how I can use MY position to enhance the conversation and not just sound defensive. So yeah, this and lots of other questions floating around in my head. I will re-read, reflect, and refine.

    So again, thank you for this post and from a personal standpoint, thank you for having this conversation with me, particularly because I can’t get it anywhere else. xoxo

    1. Meghan, I am still struggling with all of it. The shootings, the police, black lives matter, all lives matter, racism. It’s so complicated and confusing. And, yet, something inside of me makes me think that it is so simple to resolve. Why can’t we get past this?! I am not naive, I don’t think so… I just literally do not understand why it is so hard for humans to see and listen to humans. Yes, I know it is because we are scared of what we do not know, of what is different from us. And then we stay stuck in the middle of our ways. But, my god. The answer is just to open up just enough to entertain a new thought, to experience something new, someone new. And to see and understand that we are not at all different.

      It frustrates and saddens me immensely.

      Thank you to you, too, for engaging in this conversation with me. For not letting my words just float out there into cyberspace, but for giving me the honor of knowing that I am actually talking with someone. Love to you, my dear friend. xoxo

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