In the wake of Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the murder of George Floyd, I find myself thinking of the Black Lives Matter signs I see on my drive between my hometown and college in Farmington. At first it was only one, but then another sprang up, and another and another.
Maine is the whitest state in the nation, so for some the problem of racism may seem distant or even irrelevant. But to me, seeing these signs shows that my neighbors are willing to do the hard work of grappling with white privilege and understanding the extent to which race is woven into our culture.
Breaking the pact of white silence is difficult. My family thought long and hard before putting up our own BLM sign. We were worried how people might react. But we realized that by breaking our own silence, others might be emboldened to speak up too. The first step to dealing with white privilege is recognizing that the ability to remain silent is a privilege as well, and one not everyone has.