As a friend and a radio co-host, Tyler Kemp will always be intertwined into my Villanova experience. Every week we share and discuss our opinions on the world of sports. However, the opinion piece that he shared for The Villanovan last week was bigger than sports.
And now, like on our radio show, I believe that it is my turn to speak up.
It is my turn to speak up, because this country will never achieve progress and justice unless the people from the group that is doing the oppressing are just as upset about oppression as the people who are oppressed. Because being born white in today’s America is like having pocket aces. I will never experience what it feels like to fear for my life because someone might murder me for my skin color. My parents never had to have a conversation with me on how to act while interacting with a police officer, because this type of police brutality does not happen for white people.
And to my fellow white friends, it is more than okay to admit that we were born with an objective level of privilege in society. It is not your fault; it is the fault of systemic oppression that has been going on long before many of our ancestors stepped foot in this country.
If you want to spark change in this America, use your privilege for good, use your platforms on social media and go to protests. That means do more than just talk about it with your parents or in group chats. Do more than like a tweet. As a nation, we are at the most important crossroads that we have seen in our young lives. Trayvon Martin was murdered, and no change occurred. Eric Garner was murdered while uttering the same words “I can’t breathe”, and no change occurred. The George Floyd case, however, feels different. As we can see in protests all across the country, our black brothers and sisters are beyond fed up with seeing innocent black people have their lives taken by police, and we must make a conscious decision to support them.
So what can we do to be an ally and support our fellow human beings? For starters, we must listen. We can never fathom their pain, so who are we to judge the anger of the black community on their anger and how people choose to express it? We will never be able to relate to their struggles, but at best we can understand how and why the black community wants swift and dramatic change.
Next, we must support the cause. These murders have been going on forever, and nothing has happened. Why? Because a large majority of white people have never been enraged by these senseless killings and felt as if their voices should be heard in the process. We must join our black friends’ side by side in their fight against systemic injustice. We must march with them in the streets. We need to share the injustice on social media so our white friends and family can become aware of the racism that black people face.
But most importantly, we must speak up when we see racism. And before you say, “Well Logan, racism is a touchy subject,” understand that growth and change can only happen when you leave your comfort zone and become aware of ideas that challenge your own. It doesn’t make you a bad friend to tell your friend he or she is being racist. It doesn’t make you a bad person to say, “That country song you are listening to has racial undertones.” Until white people start to have these conversations about our past and our present, nothing is going to change. Just like nothing changed after Philando Castile, Alton Sterling or Freddie Gray were all killed for the color of their skin.
When the class of 2021 sat in the old Pavilion at Candidates day on a rainy day in April 2017, Father Peter said, “Become who you are not yet”. So I ask this of all my fellow white Villanovans: become the change you want to see in this world. Do not be complicit and turn a blind eye to covert racism.
Become an ally.