“If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” -Desmond Tutu
This goes for anything, really. When you choose to not take a side, you have chosen your side. And it is not the side of peace and harmony: it is the side you (hopefully) do not want to be associated with or offend.
We are living in offensive times. Always have, probably always will. The question is this: what are you choosing to find most offensive? Speak louder about that. If it’s the destruction of property, so be it. If it is the murder of innocent people, then say it.
I will misspeak. I will be wrong in how I phrase things. I will be wrong in my thinking. I will make huge mistakes that hurt others. I will probably do these things in an attempt to communicate my heart, my hurt, my anger, or my happiness.
I lost my Bible once. It’s still gone-given away to someone else. The people where I left it didn’t even look inside for a name to see if it belonged to someone. They were unapologetic. They did not seem to care or understand it was the first bible I purchased for myself, wrote notes in the margins, important dates, highlighted, and memorized. That was an object that held such sentimental value that I still feel its loss. I can empathize with having material items taken from you, with no sympathies given.
Dr King said that riots are the language of the unheard. I am not suggesting that I should riot over a lost Bible, that was in my perspective given away with no care; but I am suggesting that when a group of people protest the murder and rape of humans, and are then attacked for the protest, that it should not be surprising if riots erupt. When we as a whole refuse to listen to a group of people when they are peaceful, how else are they supposed to get us to hear?
What would you do if a member of your country was raped, beaten, robbed, and murdered by the ones who are supposed to serve and protect, and no one in places of power would listen to you? What would you do when no matter what happened to the members of your country, and no matter how nicely and respectfully you asked or brought attention to the matter, you were ignored or told it was your fault?
I come from a home where I was abused. No nice way to phrase it. And no matter what I did, I would not be saved. No one was coming or in a position to protect me. No one. Those who should have protected me chose not to. And for decades of my life I believed it was my fault, or that the behavior was acceptable because the people in charge of me chose to not take a side.
This is nothing compared to what people of color endure and have endured. People of color are murdered, shot, beaten, and raped in broad daylight while being filmed and still… nothing. Nothing changes.
If it is tragic to you when a person is murdered and preposterous when that murder is rioted against, then I kindly suggest you take some time to look inside yourself and ask why that is. Which is the most offensive? And what would be an acceptable way to protest these injustices?
Then, I suggest you go do that thing you think is acceptable to protest decades of murders, beatings, rapes, and thefts against a class of people. And those people being robbed, raped, and killed? They are members of your country. They are your fellow Americans.