OPINION: An open letter to my non-Black peers

An open letter to my non-Black peers, 

Your silence is violence. 

I am traumatized. Every day I open my social media and there’s something new — a new hashtag, trauma porn, a Black person advocating for their right to be treated as human. I break down at least 10 times a day now due to what is going on. I become angry every time I see another Black body diminished to a hashtag that you retweet and forget about moments later. I worry that the next one could be my mom, my dad, my uncle, my aunt, my brother, my sister, my son or my daughter. I question if I should bring a child into an anti-Black world that condemns us for just breathing. Yet you go about your day doing and saying nothing. Your silence is violence

I am confused. You preach about a tight-knit college community, but what you really mean is a tight-knit college community for people who look like YOU. What about people who look like ME? In a time when your Black peers are facing trauma, your deafening silence is all that we can hear. YOU are not doing your part as a member of this “community” because YOU are not DIRECTLY reaching out to US. We are living in a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting Black people. We are living in a time where state-sanctioned violence against OUR bodies is normalized. We are living in a time where the President of the United States put out a kill order against Black bodies. Yet, this community is failing to provide adequate support for us, your Black peers. We have not heard from a majority of you. Your silence is violence. 

I am disappointed. Every time I see donations to organizations aimed at helping us, they are coming from US. I attend a school with one of the widest wealth disparities in the nation. It is absolutely disgusting that some of you can sit there with a disproportionate amount of wealth and refuse to even give five dollars to this cause. Instead, you expect us to provide monetary capital for ourselves, in a country where Black people are systemically prohibited from achieving social mobility and monetary stability. It is disheartening that you completely ignore and refuse to give to causes aimed at protecting Black bodies. You ignore these causes. You ignore our voices. Your silence is violence. 

I am mortified. I think of all the times I hear you all throw around the n-word like it’s not a term used to oppress my community. I think of how most of you are obsessed with Black culture, music, art and people. In the face of injustice, this obsession suddenly disappears. Where is your outcry? It is not enough to condemn racism and injustice behind closed doors; it is not enough to make an Instagram story post or tweet #BlackLivesMatter. Performative wokeness is disgusting. It is embarrassing that you believe Black people should educate you on how to be an ally to us. Read a book. Watch a documentary. Listen to a podcast. With all the resources out there, your ignorance is not justifiable anymore. Your inability to use your privilege to practice proper allyship is dangerous. Your inability to be as outraged as us, as angry as us and as loud as us is dangerous. Your silence is violence.

I await the day when you break your silence, because we have broken ours. I refuse to remain silent no matter how hard this country attempts to dehumanize my existence. I refuse to exist in this anti-Black world where I can be killed for just running, complying, working, driving, learning, standing or breathing. I will fight for my right to exist and be heard. You can choose to remain silent, but you are complicit and at this time that means YOUR SILENCE IS VIOLENCE. 

Sincerely and on behalf of the Black community, 

Kamara Anyanwu CM ’22

I would like to thank Q for inspiring me to share my thoughts.  You need to be loud because Black voices will never be loud enough.  

If you are looking for a cause to donate to, please consider the Black Visions Collective. They are a Black-led queer- and trans-centered organizing network. You could also donate to Black Lives Matter or Reclaim the Block. If you felt a sense of shame when reading this, it was meant for you. 

Kamara Anyanwu CM ’22 is a Nobody Fails at CMC organizer and a former Diversity and Inclusion Chair for ASCMC.  A version of this letter was previously published on her Twitter and Instagram.

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