To begin, I would just like to say that I am truly sorry for not being a better ally, for not seeking to understand, and for turning my head when things got uncomfortable. For staying silent.
It wasn’t long ago that I found myself firmly rooted in the “all lives matter” camp. I remember when the black lives matter campaign first began, thinking repeatedly to myself… wait, isn’t this just adding to the division? Now, it is my absolute privilege to sit here and write this blog and put it on record just how wrong I was. First, I want to change the word “privilege” to the phrase “I am grateful for” (hopefully this can help us white folk relate a little easier.) I am grateful that I have not just one, but multiple safe spaces to be writing this blog from. I am grateful I know my local police force will protect and aid me in my daily life. I am grateful I have money to buy a computer so I can express my feelings. I am grateful I had a safe and funded public school with a strong English program that taught me to read and write effectively. I am thankful that this education allowed me to get into a college where I could attempt to move up the socioeconomic ladder. I am grateful I had loans available to me (and I had people to guide me to them) to go to college and start this business. Sound familiar? It should if you are a middle to upper class white person.
The thing is, privilege is just the stuff that non-minorities consider normal things to be thankful for in their everyday lives. The truth is, that minorities still don’t have access to these same privileges, because of systemic failures in our economy, our culture, and our laws (and our unwillingness to uphold those laws.) That is why, yes, all lives matter, but right now we need to be talking specifically why black lives matter. We need to start the conversation. The key to solving any problem is to first admit there is one, and second to concentrate on the problem itself (not the periphery). I don’t have all the answers, and as a white person, I can’t even fully understand… maybe ever, and that’s okay, but I, we have to keep trying.
Ethanology has taken a public stance on the black lives matter movement, and frankly, we are disappointed to see that a lot have chosen to stay silent. The banality of evil is something that we all should be considering heavily in our current circumstances. American society has been complicit in the silence for too long. The business woman in me says it isn’t appropriate for a business to be getting involved in politics. The woman in me says fuck that, racism is not political, it is every American’s duty to stand up for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, for everyone. I did not open my own business to behave like a corporate cog in the wheel. Am I scared I might lose patrons? Absolutely. Every business is fragile right now because of COVID-19, but I am certain I would rather lose some customers than die of the shame and guilt of telling my grandchildren I stood by and said nothing, while people were being murdered in the street.
As a business owner who knows real people and businesses hurt by the rioting and looting happening, I don’t condone this behavior. I do think I understand it though. If someone systematically murdered my husband in the street because of his skin color… my rage would have no ceiling. Angry people do bad things sometimes, we are all guilty of this because anger makes us impulsive. More importantly, the riots would not be happening if there wasn’t anything to be angry about in the first place. I think if we all try to meet this with more compassion, we can start to heal. We need to stay focused on the real problem.
Don’t stay silent. Today is an excellent day to be brave, find your voice. This impacts all of America, even Northern Michigan.
-Geri & Nick
This blog is our journey. Distilled.