by Anna Kerber
I have always wanted to fit in; I actually did everything I could to be a part of the crowd. I wanted to be successful but I didn’t want to be the best. I got good grades but I was not the best in the class. I played on all the best basketball and softball teams but I wasn’t the standout. I sang in the best choirs at school, but never had a solo. This wasn’t because I couldn’t be the best in the class, the all-star or have the solos. This was because I never wanted to stand out.
I settled for being good enough. Good enough to get by. Good enough to get into the colleges I wanted, make the teams I wanted and get the jobs I wanted.
I have always settled for good enough. But I can no longer settle.
Revolutionaries did not settle when they dumped tea in the harbor. Suffragettes did not settle when they were arrested and jailed. Freedom Fighters did not settle for separate but equal.
Staying quiet when people are hurting is not good enough. Avoiding the news because I don’t want to face the hatred in the world is not good enough. Not standing up for what I know is right because the people around me don’t agree is not good enough. Watching a condensed, watered-down version of the George Floyd murder is not good enough.
I had to face it all; face the privilege that had made me blind to the world around me and face the biases and discrimination in me that had directed my actions and dictated my friendships. I avoided situations with a lot of racial diversity. I advocated for “all lives matter” instead of admitting that there was inequality preventing that from being a reality. I justified police brutality by reasoning that there are bad examples in all professions. I had to face the privilege that allowed me to turn a blind eye to the reality of the hatred in me and in our country. My privilege has allowed me to live in a world that is good enough for me.
But I have now seen that good enough for me is not good enough for others around me. Settling is no longer acceptable.
Standing up and standing out is now more important than fitting in. I will stand up until my roommate isn’t scared to go for a run in our neighborhood. I will stand up until my friends aren’t followed in a store because they “look suspicious.” I will stand up until my students aren’t in danger of losing their lives when they get pulled over.
Not only will I stand up, but I will continue to listen and learn from those around me. I will no longer feel bad about my biases or my privilege, but I will use it to benefit and teach others. I will have conversations with people who have other perspectives and opinions. I will challenge myself to not get comfortable. I will teach about unity, respect, and courage. And I will continue to stand with those fighting for equality. When we stand united in love, no matter our backgrounds, hate cannot divide us.