by Illili Ahmed
Dear silent white people,
Let me try to empathize with you for a moment
I know it can be scary–daunting even–trying to address the social issues the world is facing.
I know it can feel like there is nothing you can do as you watch thousands of white nationalists and Neo-Nazis terrorize people of colour and Jewish people in the streets of Virginia.
You might feel so frustrated that you just want to throw your hands up in the air and scream–
Or that as someone who is not racist and not anti-Semite,
You have already done your part to end prejudice and discrimination in your surroundings.
Trust me, I get it.
And to that I say: get over yourself.
You heard me. Get. Over. Yourself.
The rush of sadness, anger, or frustration that you felt when you heard about white supremacist terrorism in Charlottesville?
That dawning realization that maybe racism and anti-semitism aren’t a thing of the past?
Those are the exact feelings that Jewish people and people of colour must face on a daily basis
as we watch domestic terrorists rally for our extinction and political leaders exonerate their actions.
Except unlike you, silent white people, we do not have the luxury of keeping quiet.
In the face of hatred, we must instead protest and reinforce that our lives do, in fact, matter.
We must articulate that people of colour and Jewish people deserve the utmost respect.
Which is why your silence can no longer be tolerated.
As allies, it is your responsibility to use your privilege to amplify the message that people of colour and Jewish people have been communicating for centuries
The message that acts of racism and bigotry cannot be condoned under any circumstances and that we are INTEGRAL to the continuation and advancement of society.
It is your responsibility to speak out against acts of hate while sparking conversations surrounding the mistreatment of non-white minorities and Jewish populations in your communities.
You must take it upon yourself to condemn Nazism and white supremacy alongside us and let our experiences be heard and absorbed when it is our time to speak.
Silent white people,
We have once again reached a time in which your silence is detrimental to the protection of people of colour and Jewish people.
Just like it was when Trayvon Martin and Abdirahman Abdi were killed by police
Just like it was when Trump was elected
Just like it is now, in Charlottesville, as Americans and Canadians terrorize non-white people and threaten Jewish lives.
If you were wondering what you would have done in past events of anti-semitism, xenophobia and racism, you are doing that very thing right now.
As Desmond Tutu said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”.
So, dear silent white people, it is time for you to speak up or step aside for those who will.
About the writer
Ililli Ahmed is an 11th grade student who loves onion rings, equality and Beyoncé (not in that order). In the past, she’s written articles for Radio-Canada, and is a regular youth contributor for ‘Black Ottawa Scene’. Ililli is also co-president of many school clubs, such as the Feminism Club. Her role models are her parents and Olivia Pope from Scandal. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.