June 12, 2020

Freethinker File on the Urgency of Now

Black Lives Matter

Some bloggers do an outstanding job with link posts and make them a regular feature of their blogs. I envy these bloggers, as they have a talent for finding great content I seem to lack. For example, Infidel753 seems to write at least one of these link posts a week. As you can see from this one, each includes an awful lot of links to interesting content. That's what I like about posts like this. They help me discover interesting new content I would have otherwise missed.

Every time I see one of these posts, I think to myself that I should write more of them. But the few times I have written them, I end up feeling unsatisfied. I don't think that is just because they never seem to perform particularly well. I guess it is just that I don't particularly enjoy writing them. At least, I haven't yet figured out a way to write them that I find appealing. That's probably the best way to think about it since that could help me prevent me from giving up on trying again. The closest I've been able to get is the sort of post where I limit myself to sharing 1-3 links with at least some sort of commentary or reaction. I do need to write more of these too, and so this will be one.

Every once in a while, I come across a blog post sufficiently thought-provoking that I think others need to read it. It doesn't usually matter whether I agree with the opinions expressed by the author; what matters is that it affects me in some way. It makes me think or feel something. The latest post to do this and the one I'd like to share with you today is 'The Fierce Urgency of Now' by Jeremy Styron at The Freethinker File.

I think that Styron's post affected me because I have been thinking about the subject matter he addresses a great deal lately (e.g., racism, police brutality, #BlackLivesMatter). While many of my thoughts have been similar to his, they have also been far more jumbled, confused, and contradictory. I have not been able to articulate what I've been thinking and feeling nearly as well as he did. Not only that, but he managed to give voice to something I hadn't even realized has been holding me back until I read his post: the issue of the White savior complex.

I've been trying to figure out what I can do in my daily life to help the cause, but I recognize that it can't be about me. I can't swoop in from my position of privilege to save anyone. My role will be peripheral at best and one of an ally. For every action I take, I need to spend even more time listening, learning, and seeking to improve my admittedly limited understanding. Like many difficult things, the place to start is by critically examining myself. In this context, that means confronting the ways I have benefitted and am continuing to benefit from an oppressive system. This isn't easy. It doesn't happen overnight, but it needs to happen. Many tough questions lie ahead like, "What am I willing to give up to help change the system?"

As pessimistic as I am by nature, I must admit that I have found some cause for optimism amidst the protests following what was really just the latest in a long series of examples of police brutality perpetrated against Black people. Something about this feels different. I don't recall seeing anything quite like the widespread outpouring of support for social justice activism following the murder of George Floyd. But it isn't just that it has been widespread or even that it is penetrating areas where I don't recall seeing it before. I'm having trouble putting my finger on what seems different about it, but it does seem different. I think it could last, and I think it could continue to grow into something real. This could be the transformative event that finally manages to produce real change.