I overheard recently a group of girls talking about how “over politics” they were. I was dumbfounded. I thought to myself, really? Now?!
I can’t imagine being able, much less being willing to put my head in the sand and pretend that the life I’m living is not related whatsoever to the rest of the country and what is happening in our political system. I can’t imagine trying to distance myself and pretending that we live in a completely separate world, away from politics, and any unsavory ideologies like racism, bigotry, hate, and privilege.
I realized today that this feeling of wanting to hide from politics was an admission of privilege in its most basic form – the unfortunately omnipresent ideology of ‘it doesn’t affect me, therefore I won’t worry about it.’ Thinking back, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why the comment, and the several other similar comments I’ve heard since bothered me so much until I came to the realization that these two concepts are directly intertwined: willful ignorance and privilege.
Had the group of girls been women of color, they probably wouldn’t have felt the same. In the minds of these white teenagers, the tumultuous (and I’m not afraid to say horrific) presidency means very little, because their rights are not directly being threatened. They are not being discriminated against, nor are they being threatened and made to feel unsafe in a country that calls itself the greatest in the world.
The fact of the matter is, that right now, we cannot afford to be ignorant. I can’t think of any conceivable way that people caring less about the state of affairs right now will benefit anyone. To be silent is to stand with the oppressor. To be silent directly hurts other people.
My favorite quote at the moment and the one that inspired this post is:
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” – Desmond Tutu
I am, frankly, feeling fed up with a lot right now. I’m fed up with the way things are going, and I’m angry that people won’t stand up to what is wrong, or even talk about the issues facing our communities right now. When did politics become so taboo? Why do people criticize me for feeling so strongly? Why don’t people care about other people anymore?
At the end of the day, I’m not afraid to be the person who shares a political post on facebook and twitter blasting Donald Trump. I’m outspoken about how I feel about this sham of a presidency. I want change. I don’t want to sit down and shut up about it because it’s thought of as unsavory to get worked up over politics. I want to care, and I want to make a difference.
Change doesn’t come from being silent. Speak up.
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” – Elie Wiesel