Ignoring Bullies Is Not Always The Right Move

A loved one texted me this weekend saying saying someone told them we should just IGNORE the White Supremacist marches because we’re just giving them the attention they want. And I really meditated on that for awhile because – you know? I get that impulse. What do I tell my kids when they’re being picked on? I tell them to IGNORE THE BULLY because if the bully can’t get a reaction out of you, they’ll move on to someone else.

But – when my kids come home and say that they’re FRIEND is being bullied? What is the first thing I ask? “Did you stick up for them? Did comfort your friend? Did you ask your friend what they wanted you to do?” When my kid’s friends are being bullied, I never tell them to ignore it. Because what if their friends wants someone to stand up for them? Someone who has more power? Or strength? Every situation is different but I never EVER say, “Well – just ignore the kid picking on your friend.”

If the bullies are older kids and they’re scared, I tell my kids to at least sit with their friends and let them know they care. And then talk to the teacher for them if they’d like, or go with them. It’s okay to be scared, but it’s not okay to ignore when friends are being bullied.

Here’s the thing. The Nazis and racists are not coming for me. I’m super-white without a Jewish relative in sight. So me choosing to sit at home and ignore them if they come to my town would be a REALLY easy decision to make. “I’m just going to ignore the bullies!”

But, what message does that also deliver to the members of my community not protected by a society who already favors them because they’re white?

Not participating in a counter protest is fine – it’s scary out there. But I’m not going to sit here in my privileged white skin and tell the minorities in my communities that they should just ignore it too. No way. I will give them my support. I hope I would show up and stand by their side, I would hope I could be that brave, but I most definitely am not going to tell them to “just ignore” the Racists and Nazis marching in the streets of their community. No, I will use my privilege and the protection of my skin to support them.

If I stay home and say I’m going to “ignore those racist bullies” as they gain more and more power (both in the streets and in the government), what will it really do to me and my white skin? Nothing. But what message does it simultaneously give to the minorities the racists are trying to intimidate? If the people of color in my community organize a counter protest, I will support them.

And while the hippie in my totally loves the idea that “Love Conquers Hate” – it is not my job to preach that to the people the Hate is directed towards. I don’t know what it feels like to have people who want to protect the statues of the people who fought for freedom to enslave my ancestors. I don’t know what it feels like to see people marching down the street chanting against me and my family because of the color of my skin. I don’t know the anger I would feel towards them so I’m definitely not going to coach the people to “unite in love” when they are so angry at what they’re watching.

I will not tell people disadvantaged in a society that favors my skin, how they should feel.

I can try to spread love in my own sphere, but I will not condemn or silence people screaming in anger. As a white person – I don’t counter-protest only against the bullies marching down the street, I counter-protest FOR the members of my community who they’re trying to intimidate.