I’ve hesitated a number of times to tell friends and people I respect that they are aiding in racism, that they are hurting persons of color with their silence, or that they are actively engaging in racism themselves. I worry about what I’ll say when I meet up with friends and one among the group begins to defends perspectives and dispositions that aid, incite, and promote racism. I don’t want to lose friends by speaking out.
But I’m trying to resist this fear.
Being quiet because you don’t want to lose friends for calling out their racism is like being quiet while a bully is on the attack. Really, it’s not “like” that. It’s actually that.
Persons of color get attacked, and we see you standing by. And we know you do this because… you want to stay friends with the bully.
If you are a parent (or want to be one), ask yourself: Do you want your kids to stand up to the kids who bully? Or do you want them to stand by so they can stay friends with the bully? Your kids will follow your lead.
Maybe you don’t think your words will make a difference. Maybe you can’t convince the bully that what they’re doing is wrong. But you can still say, “That is not ok.” And then take the hand of your hurt neighbor.
If you’ve aided the bully, you’re not alone. I’ve done this. I’m trying to do better. Let’s do better together.
A note on bullies: When bullies are called out, they usually try to repaint themselves as the victim. Don’t be surprised if your friends do this.
Some resources, if you’re interested:
Other related writings:
- A Conservative Consideration of #BlackLivesMatter
- Why objections to defunding the police are racist
- Your kids will aid bullies
- Catholic Misrepresentation of Pope Francis Today Shows the Subtle Silencing of Black Voices
- If you blame protestors, you likely would have blamed George Floyd
- Why I Left the Law Firm Life: A Letter to My Former Boss
- Last Night Was Different: More on the Fires in my Cities
- My Racist Exchange Today
- Do I Support Looting
- Reflections on a Second Night of Fires
- Trauma and Setting Fires
- More of my writings on race here
Chris Damian is a writer, speaker, attorney, and business professional living in the Twin Cities. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas. He is the author of “I Desired You: Intellectual Journals on Faith and (Homo)sexuality” (volumes I and II). He is also the co-founder of YArespond, a group of Catholic young adults seeking informed and holistic responses to the clergy abuse crisis. In his free time, he enjoys hosting dinner parties and creative writing workshops.