I saw this over a month ago:

and the chorus still catches me off guard at odd moments in my daily routine.

Sometimes as I am slowly sponging up the sink, or shutting my mind off to sleep, or putting on my makeup, I hear the ghost of the chorus:

What side are you on friend?
What side are you on?
Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all

And there are most definitely sides here.

Facebook is one of the clearest places to see where the battle lines are drawn. I am undoubtedly — staunchly even — on one side and a broad swath of my FB friends are on the other. And if FB statuses are any indication, there seems to be an even larger portion of people who are on neither side, choosing to maintain the status quo of posting pictures of cats, kids and the like.

There’s no judgment in that statement. Not everyone uses her FB page as a platform, but I would make the case that there is no neutrality in this case. You cannot be Switzerland in any conversation involving injustice. In the words of Elie Wiesel:

we must take sides, neutrality helps the oppressor elie wiesel quotes
It’s much easier to not take a stance. To stand afar off and not get involved in all the emotion and debates. To stay above the fray. But I’d challenge you to do two things before you cast your ballot for neutrality:

1) Tomorrow, call up your grandmother, or in some cases, your mother, and ask her what she did during the civil rights movement. What was she doing while this was happening?

Demonstrators huddled in a doorway seek shelter from the hoses. The water is propelled at a force of one hundred pounds per square inch.
Credit: 1963 Charles Moore/Black Star

How about your grandfather? Was he pretending to be Switzerland while this was happening in his country to his fellow citizens?

Birmingham, 1963 Police dogs attacking demonstrator during anti-segregation protest. Credit: 1963 Charles Moore/Black Star

Perhaps they were just hanging out at the house, maintaining the status quo, keeping above the fray when all of this was going on.

2) After talking to your grandparents, look in the nearest mirror and ask yourself:

What side are you on, friend? What side are you on?

And maybe you think Michael Brown was a “pot-smoking thug” as one of my FB friends so eloquently (and without the slightest hint of racial bias) described him. I don’t agree, but I would encourage you to substitute any of the following names into the above chorus: Tamir Rice, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Renisha Mcbride, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis. Choose your own victim. There are entirely too many. Perhaps, it’s the facts that you need to gather — gather away, but in the end, you must choose a side.

There  is no neutrality here.


2 Comment on “What Side Are You On, Friend? Here’s a Hint: You’re Not Switzerland

  1. Pingback: The Least of These | Pretty For A Black Girl

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