I’ve been quiet. At first it was unintentional—the residual effects of quarantine fatigue that stripped me of any desire to write, share or be accountable for my thoughts in any sort of capacity. In the midst of my silence the real world erupted and the online world became hostile. I didn’t particularly care to be part of either of them and my silence became deliberate. I did not shout Black Lives Matter from here, there or anywhere. Instead, I watched and read. I wrote and deleted. I talked with my kids and discussed it all with my husband. But here, in this space, I stayed quiet—I said nothing. However anyone who knows me, knows I can’t stay quiet for long and I’m here to explain why you won’t hear me talk about racism.
For a while there was a piece of me that didn’t want to interrupt. Because amongst the noise, there was a momentum of new understanding. I didn’t want to clutter your feed with my uneducated voice and endorsements for change. Because, if I did that, what you might miss, were the posts that were making the point—the stories.
It is the stories—the ones brimming with authenticity of raw, first-hand experiences—that give us true insight into why a system is broken. And it was the stories that made me realize my own mistakes and shortcomings when dealing with race and racism. However the noise distracted me.
People being slammed for speaking up and for staying silent, distracted me. People not holding respectful space for others, distracted me. People pleading for others to educate themselves, while forgetting that even the educated voices can come to different conclusions, distracted me. And these distractions kept me silent for longer. Until the silence was suffocating me. And it was actually the book I’m holding above that inspired me to finally say something and that, that something, doesn’t need to be perfect or said like anyone else—it just needs to happen.
So here’s the thing. Social justice is not my specialty. I cannot speak to the experiences of other people or pretend to understand the intricacies of race and racism. I will not speak truths I cannot comprehend and frankly, I’m full-up and my capacity to learn about systemic racism to the point of being able to enlighten others is non-existent. However I long to be a trusted voice—a voice of reason, empathy and kindness—so here is what I can offer you.
I can speak to equality for all. I will be adamant in my intolerance for hate—for any marginalized group of people—and I will always support freedom of speech and the people’s right to protest peacefully. I will advocate that all people should be judged solely on their own actions and not for their colour, creed, physical abilities, sexual orientation or gender identity. I can speak for acceptance and access for all.
Over the last several years I have revealed myself to you. I have opened up my disabled existence in the hopes of spreading awareness and sparking change. I speak my truths and share the nitty gritty details of my life—I get really specific about disability. But you will not hear me speak candidly about race and racism. My voice on this subject will be used to teach my children and to help us understand how, as a family, we can make positive changes. That is where I believe I can make the most difference on this subject.
There will be many of you who will still think I am wrong. That I should use my platform—however small—to shout my endorsement. You will argue that even a small trickle of water can aid to extinguish a fire. And I must admit, the people-pleasing part of me wants to apologize—I’m sorry if this isn’t enough for you. But I’m not going to do that. Because this is all I have right now. I have to honour my own limits—my own knowledge and my already stretched capacity for stress—and go forward into my online life staying true to what I know.
But I will offer one small piece of advice. Do yourself a favour and save the screenshots of your passive-aggressive, single-minded and unhelpful memes to a folder on your desktop and keep them to yourself. That argument you’re about to start is going nowhere.