There’s a criticism going around social media directed at these suddenly woke white folks accusing them of only NOW recognizing that Blacks and other non-white minorities have been dealing with racism since forever. Because suddenly it’s trendy or cool to be all #BLM, but it’s not legit. It’s just because other people are doing it too, so now when it’s safe, white people are jumping on the bandwagon.
We get it — and that accusation could be lobbed our direction too (even though we did publicly call out Yale for lack of diversity back in 2013 but no, we haven’t exactly been making statements about equality and the abuses in the system as prominently and regularly as we could have been). But these accusations are missing the point, aren’t they? Better to wake up to the problem really late, and only after massive numbers of people have been suffering, then not to wake up at all.
Right now people are waking up, and many are wondering… Now what?
What actually will happen?
There’s been protests and demonstrations before. Eventually, they die down and people go home. The status quo keeps chugging along. Nothing actually changes.
Except now there are all these major brands making statements about the need for equality and how the systems must change.
There’s a conversation happening today — a long overdue one. It appears that at least some in power are at least somewhat motivated to try and do things differently.
This is what’s called a shift in the Overton window , which means that public perception and public opinion on this topic has changed. It’s why politicians (some of them) are feeling empowered to speak up: Because they can do so knowing they’re going to be supported by enough of their constituents that they won’t lose in their next election because of it.
Will this be an issue that actually converts into ballot box behavior? Because that’s truly how the system will change in this country (unless there’s actually an overthrow of the government which we don’t think is going to happen anytime soon, but you never know — things are mighty uncertain rn and we never would have predicted the moment we’re in).
If you feel strongly that change does need to happen, and you’re hoping it does, and you’re worried that maybe it won’t, then this is your time to act.
Posting on social media about how cops killing Black people is wrong or that the cops shouldn’t be beating up protesters is not really going to bring about much change.
If you’re motivated to do so, and able to do so (current health situation considered), then protesting does help. That’s showing your community that people care about this. It’s taking action.
Even greater action is to get deeply educated on the issues, and learn about the history, and the attitudes, and the psychology of racism and privilege. If you are in the majority, this requires a willingness to be made uncomfortable. As we posted before, White people are the ones who need to change.
What that change will look like will be revealed. It will happen organically through all of us changing. Changing attitudes. Changing beliefs. Understanding the experience of people who don’t look like us. Most of this change needs to come from White people, because they’re the ones who have prevented it for so long. That’s due to the power structure present in society that benefits Whites.
That change will also look the way we imagine it. Can you imagine a world without police? Most people can’t. And yet the “defund the police” movement actually has merit, if you understand the argument being made and what’s being asked for. This panel hosted by Trevor Noah is a good introduction. The tl;dw is, if you examine the actual budget of the actual town or city where you live, and see what percentage of that budget is allocated towards the police, then you start to get a sense of how as a society, we’re placing priorities in a very strange place.
Anyway. Watch the video. Do some reading.
Try this thought exercise instead:
Can you imagine a world that’s totally different than the world all of us know today?
Can you objectively examine the privilege you carry?
If you’re a POC then you don’t have status in American society — unless you’re male, and/or middle class, and then you have at least some.
If you’re White and male, especially if you are also heterosexual and cisgendered, and especially especially if you make more than $100k year, then whoa you’re privileged. It is what it is. You didn’t ask for that privilege, but you have benefited from it, possibly your entire life, without even recognizing the way it lets you move through the world.
That’s just a statement of fact. It may be difficult to read about privilege; it may feel like an accusation. It may make you feel defensive or guilty.
Convert those feelings into actions. That’s how you can make use of the privilege you have. Bring change to the system of injustice you see.
Does this mean you will be forced to give up some of your privilege?
Most likely, it’s very hard to face this idea. It is experienced by many Whites as threatening. “Why defund the police? The police are there to protect me.” But that’s not the experience of Black people. More police mean they are less safe.
It’s really tough to say how this is going to play out, and we’re not even going to try, except to hope that this truly is a time of actual change, that systems will be dismantled and power structures change. Perhaps four years of having a racist in the highest office has finally forced America to look at its problems and realize how ugly they are.
We often see BSers write cliches in their MBA essays about how they aspire to “be the change they want to see in the world” which is fine and dandy, but we say, what’s stopping you? Now is the time.
Finally, an apology: We keep trying to get back to a standard editorial calendar of writing posts that are targeted and practical for the admissions season that’s here, publishing advice that’s geared towards helping you understand the challenges ahead and how to prepare for your MBA applications. Many schools have released news of essay questions and deadlines, and EssaySnark is behind the curve on the admissions cycle compared to where we usually are in mid-June. We’re working to rectify that. But, sorry not sorry. There are more important things for all of us to be looking at, talking about, and acting upon in this moment in time.
EssaySnark is committed to change. We hope these discussions about what’s going on in the world can also empower you or inspire you or keep you motivated to think through the difficult questions and look for ways that you can create a new world that lives under new rules and a society that better serves all.
Oh yeah: Please wash your hands and keep a social distance. Coronavirus cases are climbing steadily across the U.S. Don’t get complacent. This thing has totally not gone away.