Last Monday, Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, after responding to a store clerk’s call about use of a suspected counterfeit bill. Chilling video footage shows one officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he gasps for breath. Floyd’s brutal death has served as a tipping point for social unrest; since, a wave of protests across the world have erupted, from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, from London to Berlin. As protestors and supporters call for an immediate end to systematic and racist violence and police brutality, BAZAAR contributing editor Chrissy Rutherford made a passionate speech about why silence from the non-Black community is no longer acceptable. Below is a transcript of Rutherford’s speech, posted on her Instagram, in which she talks the importance of being anti-racist and speaking up for Black lives.
I think it's really important obviously for people to understand how heavily this weighs on Black people right now. I don’t know George Floyd and the many that have come before him, but just understanding that someone has been murdered for having the same skin color that I have—it’s a lot to deal with. The last 36 hours I’ve just felt so overwhelmed and I’m trying to process what’s happening. My body is taking on the stress; my neck has been so stiff; I’m not sleeping well at night. Then when you add in social media, scrolling through people’s feeds and what not, and seeing that people are silent yet posting their banal shit like it’s any other day. To me it just says you don’t care. I can’t see it any other way.
I think if you are not Black and you are not sharing what’s going on and talking about it, to me, you’re sending a message that you agree with whats going on. I don’t care if you have a million followers or you have 200 followers. It’s still important to have these conversations with your friends and your family, and to make your point of view known. Otherwise they might think you actually agree with what’s going on. I wouldn’t want anyone thinking that I agree with Black people literally being murdered in the street.
It’s just so hard for me to imagine people being scared to speak out about what is right. Are you afraid that people are going to think that you like Black people and you don’t believe they should be executed in the street? Please explain that to me.
I think in times like these, it’s really important to be mindful of the quote about loving black people just as much as you love Black culture. Because day in and day out I see white people posting about how they love Travis Scott and they love Roddy Rich, and they’re dancing to “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion. It’s very clear to see how white people align themselves with Black trends. And to seem in the know and to be cool. But you’re not standing up for Black people when they’re being fucking oppressed. There is a real problem in that. I just think that if you’re co-opting Black trends but not speaking out about our oppression, that shit just doesn’t fly. And honestly, we see that. We take note of that.
I get people trying to make the argument of like ‘Well, I just don’t share everything on social media’ and I get that to a certain extent. You’re making the donations, you’re making the calls and whatnot. But I do think that it matters to share your point of view on social because let’s be real—we spend most of our time on social media. I think if you can take the time out to share your everyday content, you can also take the time to share where you stand in important issues such as this. I just don’t really think there’s an excuse.
There's so many layers to this, obviously. What we’ve seen the last couple of days and what we’ve seen time after time is very overt racism. But covert racism is something that Black people (including myself) still also have to deal with on a daily basis. That can be anything from being paid less than your white coworkers, to hearing ‘Oh, you sound white’ or ‘She thinks she’s white.’ Also hearing white people use the word “ghetto” to describe things that they don’t like. That sends a very clear message about exactly what you think Black people are supposed to look like, sound like, and it’s racism. It’s not enough anymore to be like ‘Oh I have good intentions, I’m not racist.’ You need to actually take the time to educate yourselves to be anti-racist. That is where white people are falling short right now. You need to put in the time and the energy and the care to educate yourselves on racism. Anti-racism is the name of the fucking game right now. And that’s it.
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