Prominent news stories get our attention for a while but are quickly replaced by the next big headline. This week, it’s George Floyd, in May it was Breonna Taylor, in July of 2015 it was Sandra Bland.
There are also countless other people, whose names we don’t know and whose stories didn’t go viral. Those who didn’t make it to the front pages and whose families suffer in silence.
Systemic inequalities don’t change overnight, so weeks after a tragedy, well after the news cycle ends, we must continue to care and continue to commit.
While much attention is being placed on people's reactions to this most recent as well as past injustices, it’s important to try and understand the stories behind those reactions. Frustration has been building up from years of systemic oppression and an absence of meaningful change.
I felt some confusion approaching how to support a community I’m not a part of, afraid of making a mistake or overstepping. I know this isn’t my story to tell, but I write with the hope of providing useful information, much of which I have learned from people around me.
Many want to help but are unsure where to start. There are different ways of getting involved. You can utilize social media to spread helpful information, attend a protest, contact your local representatives, and donate resources if you are able. Educating yourself is also important: give attention to black scholars, writers, and artists, have tough conversations with family and friends, and engage in self-reflection, even if it’s uncomfortable.
It's not too late to get involved or make changes within yourself. Ask yourself, “What societal perceptions do I hold that aren’t fact-based?” and “How have I unconsciously supported and benefited from this system?”
I’m a non-black person of color, and I still have privilege. In addition to white privilege, there are endless other advantages a person may benefit from, including gender, socio-economic, and education-based. Acknowledging privilege doesn’t negate our own struggles. We can use our privileges to advocate for people who don’t have them.
It’s a lifelong commitment to check oneself, to constantly reevaluate and discover how to be a better ally, confront and learn from mistakes, understand your own privileges, and work toward a society that doesn’t tolerate racism. It’s great to feel motivated and demand justice now, but what about in a month, or in a year?
I know I must continue to care and stand in solidarity, on a daily basis, because we must do better. Because even if you aren’t personally disadvantaged, it doesn't mean there isn’t a problem. Because simply not being racist isn’t enough. Because Black Lives Matter.
This column is a regular feature of the Tribune's monthly WAVE page. Do Yeon Kim is a Detroit Lakes High School graduate who is now a college student at Harvard.