Silence is Not an Option

History has always been convulsive. It goes forward—backwards—forward—backwards.  Its door constantly remains shut to populations for decades, even centuries, then is finally opened, only for another one to close, then that door opens, and on and on the pattern goes. In the case of racism in the United States, the issue is much larger than rights written on a bill. It begins with ideologies passed down from generations that enjoyed the exclusivity of a closed door, and it continues when there is no agreement even from your next-door neighbors on whether or not the door remains closed—in spite of how visibly it is. It will take a long time for the mechanics of this system to open the same doors for people of color that are open for whites. There is, however, a door that must be opened immediately for all races in light of the nauseating stream of police brutality sweeping the United States, and that is the open door that leads to a national discourse on police brutality between absolutely every American citizen that has a modicum of humanity.

A friendship, whether casual or deep, means listening. It means having deep, uncomfortable talks even if it begins and ends on opposite sides. It’s one thing to bandy with an anonymous face on a public post where the chances of hostility are heightened, and compassion and consideration become absent; and another altogether to converse with a familiar face. When people take to the comments on a news article to seek insight on a social issue, it is like going to a well-known restaurant down the street with an extensive menu, even though the majority of the dishes leaves a pungent aftertaste washed down with piss-poor customer service; instead of going to the friendly mom-and-pop restaurant right next door that is known for warm, genuine service and a culinary staff of greater knowledge and expertise. Most people may not realize this, but friends could be much smarter than you think. Imagine that! You could have wise friends and not even know it! And if you ARE aware of the intelligence of your friends, that is all the more reason to get your mental nutrition from this source instead of the venomous, poisonous heap tossed at and senselessly gorged by the masses. It is long overdue for all races to come together and converse with familiar faces on this urgent issue at a national level. This post is being written to provide an outlet for this to happen without leaving the comforts of your home.

The Colin Kaepernick controversy is just the most recent reminder of how divided the response to police-brutality protests are. There are far too many people who are either ignorant of or dead silent about the spirit of Kaepernick’s protests. Instead of informing themselves, many blindly attack Kaepernick or anyone who dares utter a word that could be received as unpatriotic—whether it’s against rogue police officers or the systematic racism that lies beneath the flag—regardless of how many victims go without justice. This protest is bigger than any one tragic victim. It is affecting the lives of friends, families, and loved ones of millions of Americans and it is time to activate the power of social media to do something about it…even if it’s just speaking up. Everyone who is committed to seeing and creating a change must privately contact every single friend they have on social media whose position on police brutality in America is either vague or completely unknown. Not confront. Not attack. CONTACT for an open dialogue. There are three objectives to be met here:

1) For those who are deeply affected by this issue to know where their friends stand on police brutality in America. They are entitled to this knowledge. Simple as that. What they do with the knowledge they attain through these discussions is up to each individual person.

2) To facilitate a healthy dialogue among FRIENDS, not strangers, which theoretically should have a much greater probability of gaining insight, perspective and even knowledge from another point of view. This could also lead to a gradual paradigm shift that begins to erode racial tension in a palpable way.

3) To spread awareness and hopefully get more people to support the fight against police brutality. Whether it’s just sharing an occasional post that speaks on the police brutality crisis or actively contacting state congressmen to attempt to enact legislation to combat this problem. There are too many people who remain silent during this time of urgency, and if they are unwilling or unable to speak up in defense of human rights, then those who do speak up must attempt to give them a nudge to do so. Instead of saying how some groups of people must be more vocal about police brutality, these discussions will actively and personally give them a much-needed push to do so. Not unlike the power structure of any government, a population cannot sit back and wait for change to happen on its own. If you believe that there needs to be a change in who speaks up about police brutality, then you must help catalyze the change. It is asinine to sit idly by and hope that someday a light switch comes on that enables those who have been silent for years to suddenly speak up. If it comes to light that these friends do not agree that there is a problem with police brutality or even consider protest groups like BLM a terrorist organization, these opinions must be addressed with evidence and logic. If this is truly to be a productive dialogue, all parties must be willing to be uncomfortable. And yes, it will take the courage to open this discussion even with the knowledge that you may lose some fair-weather friends as a result. This concept is meant to be extremely doable, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Change doesn’t come easy. It takes bravery, sacrifice, and voices. Enter these conversations bravely, knowing how uncomfortable and heated they may become. Sacrifice a small portion of your time to carry these conversations through private messages. And KNOW that your voice, even in a private discussion, is never small…especially when the same discussions are happening simultaneously on a national scale. At the end of each conversation, reason should prevail. As human beings, we should never be closed off to having a philosophical or intellectual breakthrough. Truth is a virtue that must be sought, obtained, and defended. To shirk this and to stubbornly cling to beliefs before, during, and after a discussion is to deprive the human brain of its infinite capacities. Never limit your intellectual capacity for the expense of old baggage passed down from others. Listen and embrace reason from all sides and even more graciously from friendly faces, and the end result will always be knowledge – either about others, yourself, the entire world around you, and finally: solutions.

Shaun King, a prominent journalist for the New York Daily News, has a growing social media following that is approaching one million supporters. On King’s Facebook page, he has listed 25 actual solutions to police brutality. Equally as important, he works tirelessly to inform the public daily of racism and police brutality occurring in America. King is an important tool for these discussions because anyone who is oblivious to what is going on in this country should be advised by the initiator of these discussions to visit and LIKE Mr. King’s page, because if they truly have an open mind, the plethora of credible news stories that are reported daily should open and enlighten even the blindest of eyes. Share the page with them. Then, talk about the facts presented. Talk about your personal experiences and observations. Talk about how it doesn’t matter what color you are, if you are a human being with a soul, THIS MATTERS. THIS IS A HUMAN ISSUE. Talk about ANYTHING that even grazes this topic. JUST TALK. And please, please, do not forget to listen. Speaking for myself, any and all friends who take me up on this invitation will be treated to a fully open mind as well as an extensive list of solutions which I believe will help mend this divide, while slowly opening another door in history.  Please join me in this project via hashtag—and more importantly: participation, for a crucial national discourse for the sake of humanity:

#Silenceisnotanoption

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