By Joshua Weigert
May 31st, 2020
(Header Image by Paweł Pająk)
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you have a voice and CAN talk about race issues. Whether you are white, black, yellow, purple or neon orange, no one has the right to tell you to be quiet and that your voice doesn’t matter.
As a white male, I have been bombarded with posts on social media about how my white voice needs to “shut up” and listen to the voices of African-Americans and other visible minorities. I think listening is important. But I will not be silenced.
No one, let me say it again, no one has the right to silence you and your thoughts on any issue and/or topic. Your skin colour does not determine your right to speak on an issue, nor does it determine what you should think about a particular issue. This would be the very definition of racism. Open dialogue between different ideas and opinions are crucial during this time for comfort, healing and to overcome issues we face in society.
The killing of George Floyd is inexcusable. You are hard pressed to find someone who disagrees with this sentiment. However, there are a plethora of paths to take in the aftermath of this tragedy that either exasperate or help heal racial tensions.
If you were to only listen to the loudest voices at the moment, you would hear:
#1. America is supremely racist and African-Americans are being systematically gunned down,
#2. Reparations need to be made to the African-American community,
#3. Disband the police force.
I disagree with all three of the sentiments above, and that’s okay. You and I can both have differing opinions and thoughts on all three of these points. Some of my opinions and thoughts may be right, some may be wrong. Some of your opinions and thoughts can be equally right or wrong.
And that’s okay.
I will never know what it is like to be African-American in the USA. I will never know what it is like to be Asian-American. I am willing to listen. I am willing to discuss. I am willing to learn. I am willing to fix any issues we can fix together.
Silencing voices does not breakdown walls, it creates new ones and reinforces old ones.
We need more dialogue right now, not less.