This past week has been an extremely heavy one as protests erupt across the nation in response to the murder of George Floyd, one of many black Americans murdered by those who are meant to serve and protect due to the color of his skin.


I am writing this blog post to address white people in particular who are the cause of systemic racism and yet when instances such as this occur often stay silent.


"The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people."

~Martin Luther King Jr.


I think this occurs for many reasons. I think that one of the reasons is white privilege and the ability to remain silent as it doesn't directly impact you. I think another reason is guilt. I always tell my clients that guilt is a healthy emotion; it is calling on us to right a wrong. So if you are feeling guilty, use it as a sign to take corrective action. But there are other reasons too. Sometimes people worry about saying the wrong thing or they think that this is a time to listen, not speak; and of course, listen, but don't just listen. Black Americans need us to use our voices as allies.


"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

~Martin Luther King Jr.

Often times, people see what is happening and they know it is wrong but they feel helpless and don't know what to do. If you are not sure what to do, here are some suggestions:

  1. Participate- join the protests. Physically show up and use your voice in support of those who are being oppressed and murdered; literally stand up against this injustice.

  2. Donate- there are many wonderful organizations to support including Black Lives Matters or the NAACP.

  3. Educate- educate yourself and educate others. Take the Harvard implicit bias test to confront racism within yourself. Read How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. And do not stay silent when family members or friends make racist statements because it is uncomfortable to confront someone or you do not want to "rock the boat." We need to rock the boat!

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

~Martin Luther King Jr.


I think another reason is simply feeling overwhelmed. It is completely normal to be feeling overwhelmed at a time like this, so please balance your advocacy with self-care!


Please note that the information in this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for psychological or medical care. If you are looking for professional help, visit my resources page for guidance on how to find a therapist. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest ER.


Dr. Carissa Gustafson, Clinical Psychologist Los Angeles
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