Author: Matigan King
Bio: Matigan King is pursuing a double major in Journalism and French at NYU. She has just finished her sophomore year at Liberal Studies.
During such uncertain and revolutionary times as these, when the need for change could not be more evident, many people—including myself—are asking: What can I do? Standing by and merely accepting the current state of affairs must no longer be an option, and, as a white woman, I am certainly guilty of failing to take a definitive stance against the deeply ingrained patterns of racism in this country. But this is not about me. This is not my story.
Rather than making bold statements about corrupt policy and systemic discrimination, or speaking out against police brutality and racial biases, perhaps we need to take a step back and listen. White voices have not been historically silenced on the basis of race; they have never struggled to be clearly heard and acknowledged due to the color of their speakers’ skin. Black voices, however, have been deemed inferior and unworthy of consideration. For far too long, the worthiness of black human beings has been overshadowed by racism—conscious or unconscious.
Making noise and speaking up is indeed important, but what would happen if we decided to really listen to the black community before speaking out? Actually hearing their cries, listening to their stories, and educating ourselves about the history of racism could potentially be more effective at implementing positive change.
Posthumanist philosophy challenges the human-centered hierarchy of life, but it also encourages an inclusive, non-dichotomous mode of being, one that is not defined by establishing a sense of superiority or inferiority based on race, ethnicity, gender, and other “categories” used to sow disunity. If any era could benefit from the spread of posthumanist ideals, it most certainly is this one. Getting curious, asking questions, and listening to the voices of others are all actions that can help eliminate society’s addiction to defining an “Other” against which to compare itself.
I recognize that I am embarrassingly undereducated on the issue of racism, and that this is completely unacceptable. I recognize, too, how privileged and blessed I am to have not had to endure racism personally. But that I myself have not been a victim of racism is by no means a justification for failing to pay closer attention, for failing to come to terms with the reality of such widespread hatred. My heart goes out to all those who are in pain right now. I cannot even begin to imagine how much hurt you have had to endure not only for these past few weeks, but for these past few centuries.
I promise to start paying closer attention. And, more importantly, I promise to start listening more deeply. I see you, I hear you, and I value your powerful voice.