BY ELIJAH NICHOLS, STAFF WRITER
To build a better society, a better system, we must first build a better community. When we have one voice lost in the crowd, we must uplift it. There is no doubt that there is beauty in numbers, but when the numbers don’t include a true representation of the entirety of the people, then there is no chance in building a truly better society and system.
As I march, as I talk to voters, and as I communicate my worries to elected officials, I have begun to realize my place of privilege. While, yes, I am grateful that I can speak up and out, I still know that there is a child of color who is punished harsher than his white peers, an immigrant family whose home is raided by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and a person of color that has seen the Orwellian state of our criminal justice system with its injustices of institutionalized racism. We must let those who have been denied a platform be given a megaphone at the rally of yesterday, because we will not progress as a society if a lack of representation is not addressed. Today, we are going to do just that.
As Malcolm X once said, “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even pulled the knife out, much less heal the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.” Malcolm X spoke much truth to power in his years, and that must be remembered today. As a white male, I strongly believe that my people have stuck the knife so deep in the back of people of color by speaking over them while supposedly being for them.
We must remember that this world is not just ours. Whether it is the white queer at the rally yelling about “inclusion,” the countless white liberal men who believe they know what’s better for women than an actual woman does or the the white woman who thinks they know how “intersectionality” works, we have to learn to step back and pass the megaphone to people of color. Inclusion, intersectionality and fixing the wrongs of the past can only be done by letting those who are oppressed speak up and out.
So, to my white peers, I strongly encourage you to make yourself uncomfortable by stepping back for a second. Ask yourself if you’re truly listening to what a specific community wants or does not want. If they need bodies at an act of civil disobedience, you provide bodies. If they need voices calling elected officials, you provide voices. If they need votes, you give votes.
Let’s admit the knife is there, in all of our movements, and take it out. No half measures. Admit what we have done is wrong, and then we can move forward. When we allow for those who are and have been oppressed to speak, we see new ideas at the table. We see a light at the end of a tunnel for so many families. We see communities grow, flourish, and prosper. And that’s what we need in order to provide progress for our society and our system.