Last updated on February 14th, 2021
When I was younger I read a line in a book that went something like this “ Not making a decision is making a decision.” That line comes up when I consider the in remaining neutral. Who knew a battered copy of Animorphs would be where profound thought arises? Today more people are aware that the problem of race in the country hasn’t really gone away. Like a shape-shifting shadow, it’s slithered alongside our society just out of sight of those who rationalized it away. Now, though? It’s harder than ever to ignore. Meanwhile, I’m noticing more and more people shuffle their feet, eyes shifting away as if they avoid looking at the roiling muck of racism someone else will be around to make it disappear. If you “don’t” contribute maybe it’s not your responsibility either. BEING NEUTRALLY AGAINST RACISM ISN’T ENOUGH.
It’s a thought many people have but struggle to admit even to themselves. I’ll be honest, at one point that was me too. Problem is, being neutral isn’t enough.
I learned Neutral Isn’t enough
I never wanted to be an activist. For a good portion of my youth, I’d firmly been in the camp that we didn’t have a race problem. There were good and bad people plain and simple. The best way when encountering cruelty was to turn the cheek no matter if I thought it was wrong or worse, had the creeping awareness some of it was racially motivated. I saw things in the news and I waited for someone else to speak up. I read and attended rallies for Black rights but I struggled to see how I could be a part of such an overwhelming movement. It was best for me to leave that to the stronger, more charismatic, smarter people. I “had enough problems” and couldn’t speak up more than I already did. (Which was pretty much not at all).
I decided it was wrong over a lot of little moments. Over time what I only saw sometimes slithering in the background of my life, was making its self known. Echos of the phrase “Not making a decision is making a decision.” Kept showing up in my mind. I’m no Dr. King I’d think to myself. I’m not loud or with the resources to be out there doing the work. I’d quietly started correcting white friends and asking them hard questions but would always drop it before I required more from me. I didn’t want to lose them. (come back next Wednesday for this topic)
One day it hit me. I was letting the decisions to act or not on the racism in my life, to affect the world or not, be made for me. By choosing nothing, I was making a choice. A choice to let everything continue.
It’s Your Problem Too
We live in a society and that means that we are on some level responsible for each other. None of us chose to inherit the problems of our ancestors and yet here we are dealing with them. We all must choose if we are to acknowledge and actively do something about the issues, imbalances and hate that we have had thrust upon us. We can choose to do something about it or… or not. Doing nothing is the same as choosing to let this continue. Do we continue to allow it to be a gift we give our children, to stand by while others are hurt, to let the past control us rather than growing? How much energy goes into pretending we don’t notice the shadows of our society? What is the cost does avoiding our collective shame and discomfort in the short term while allowing for more hurt?
If not us, Who?
If not now, When?
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