This week one of my colleagues stopped into my office and asked if I had a few minutes to talk. She had recently watched the video of Sandra Bland being arrested and was struggling with the abject horror of it and all its implications. I had delayed watching it myself, worried that I didn’t have enough emotional resources for it. I have since watched it and it is as terrible as I expected.
My colleague and I shared our feelings of sadness, rage, disappointment, and powerlessness. I shared how much I cried while watching the video of a police officer in McKinney, Texas brutally shoving a Black girl to the ground and pulling his gun on teenagers at a pool party.
We also talked about the fact that we know as White women that we cannot begin to imagine the impacts on our friends, neighbors, and allies in the African American community. We know that we benefit from the oppression of people of color and we struggle with our own feelings of guilt while trying to use our privilege to bring change.
I worry that when I speak out my voice will be heard because of the color of my skin. And I fear the ways that recreates the very same oppression I want to fight.
I worry that if I don’t speak out my silence is perceived as agreement and acceptance of a racist system.
So, I try to find ways to use my voice while also supporting the voices of people of color. I bring issues of police brutality into my classroom so my students are aware of what is happening in the world. I encourage them to examine their own biases and to consider the ways they can integrate advocacy into their future identity as counselors and Psychologists. I continue to challenge myself to be aware of my own biases and commit to owning up when I commit microaggressions. I look for ways to engage in small advocacy in day-to-day life.
And I feel like there must be more we can do. I feel that all my small contributions are not enough when what we need is such massive change.
But perhaps right now we have to just stay in the fight. We have to talk to each other, support each other, own our rage and sadness, speak out, shut up and make room for other voices, stand tall, cry, and keeping moving forward. We have to not let ourselves grow numb to the overwhelming injustice. We have to fight for peace and justice. We can only dismantle a system based on greed, fear, and hate with love, humanity, and an open heart. And we sure as hell can't do it alone.
Britney G Brinkman
EMPOWERTAINMENT aims to take a critical look at media in regards to how gender and women/girls are portrayed. From popular articles, videos, and websites, to original submissions, we want to not only examine the media and its relation to gender, but help shift it.