Dear White Friends, I See Right Through Your #BlackLivesMatter Posts

Stand up for what’s right. But first, make sure you look in the mirror long enough to see what’s wrong.

Elyse Cizek
ZORA
Published in
12 min readMay 30, 2020

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A photo of the author.
Elyse M. Cizek. Photo: Aaron Alpert

Dear White Friends,

Thank you to the five of you who have reached out to ask me how I’m doing. I have been your Black friend for decades. Black people all my life have told me that White friends will only be there for me for so long, and I disagreed with them. I fought for you. I believed in you. And for the five of you who have reached out to me, thank you.

I wish I could say that those five were the only ones who have been speaking out about racism in this time of topical injustice. Because they are the people who mean it. I wish that Black death wasn’t trending so much as to demand your participation without your understanding. But that’s not what we’ve seen. Daily reminders from faces hidden behind screens screaming in all caps “SILENCE IS COMPLIANCE” and implying that if you’re not standing up against this particular injustice, then you allow it to continue. I agree with this sentiment. Which is why I wish there was a lot more silence. Because that silence is honest.

I’m going to be blunt: I don’t believe you.

I’m not going to hold a banner for you now that you’ve decided to finally see me as a human being. Because I still don’t believe that you do.

Reposting and sharing videos of a dying man’s last breaths with comments like “How can this still be happening in 2020” and “I can’t believe people can be so horrible” as if it’s finally an example of racism that cannot be disproven. But after decades and centuries of Black people begging for their lives and crying to be treated as human beings, you now finally have seen something that made you feel. And since his life seems valuable enough to you through effective marketing and co-signing by other White people, you are finally willing to use your voices to call attention to it.

I am not going to congratulate you.

I’m not going to hold a banner for you now that you’ve decided to finally see me as a human being. Because I…

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