It doesn’t feel right to go back to work as normal today. This is a feeling that has become all too familiar over the past few years. I struggle with saying nothing and saying something because I don’t want a lack of speaking up to be perceived as not caring. But sometimes words and hashtags and online sentiment feel empty when it feels like actions are what is needed. But I know both/all are important.
Lately I’ve focused more on talking less and listening more, specifically to POC, fellow members of the LGBTQ community and people who experience oppression on a regular basis every day. No single person represents the entirety of one group of people or identity and so, for me, it’s felt more important to spend more time doing work that connects me to people with different backgrounds and identities and stories that I haven’t yet heard. Not so I can “understand and be done,” but so that I can continue to learn more about different people’s experiences, histories and points of view. This learning will never be done, ever.
And in that learning I’m struggling with finding a balance between speaking up and realizing that my voice and my opinion have occupied more than enough space already. I’m struggling with people in my own community who feel that this weekend’s racism and hatred and bigotry and anti-semitism are new or shocking or “not us.” They’ve always been a part of my state’s history and my culture’s history. I think we might notice these things more now, or these people are being emboldened to show their faces more openly, but they’ve always been here.
I grew up with friends who attended UVA who were assaulted by locals for being black and simply existing among communities of people that don’t value them as equal. And I’ve been spending most of my weekend thinking about one of those attacks and how little I did to support my friend other than express my “shock” and shake my head. I’ve grown up with layers of privilege and unraveling them and examining them (including how I use this platform at DS) has been a necessary part of realizing what my evolving responsibilities are as a business and as a human being. Black lives matter. Jewish lives matter. Stopping racism and anti-semitism matters. Not being silent matters. Getting out of our own safe comfort zones matters.
Getting out of our comfort zones is just that — uncomfortable. But those moments are so crucial in building understanding and connection. For some of us the most uncomfortable thing we have to do is have difficult talks with family and friends or deal with commenters who don’t like us for “being political.” I hope that any and every moment of discomfort that we allies feel, helps us better understand just a fraction of what it feels like to be a POC, Jewish or LGBTQ person in the world.
DS will always be a safe space for those who need it. As the person behind DS, I know I will make mistakes. I know my thoughts and opinions will evolve and change as I learn more, but I am committed, fully, to showing up and doing every bit of the work that I can to support everyone in our community who is persecuted because of the color of their skin, who they choose to love, how they present/identify their gender or because of how/who they choose to worship (or not).