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OP-ED: Let’s just listen for now: All who are white and privileged should open their ears to black pain

S.E. Cupp
Tribune News Service
More than 1,000 participate in the York Black Lives Matter Peaceful Protest in York City, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. It would be the second day of larger scale protests in the city following the death of George Floyd, a Minnesota man who died in police custody on May 25. Dawn J. Sagert photo

It’s only been two weeks since the murder of an unarmed black man named George Floyd in Minneapolis, and yet it feels like a year’s worth has happened.

American cities and churches burned. Peaceful protesters tear-gassed and shot at. Stores and small businesses destroyed and looted. Journalists arrested. And on Monday, the president of the United States responded to it all with a threat to turn the military against American citizens and a photo op march to a Washington church, while he enjoyed the protection of military police and Secret Service.

To say this is a dark time for America feels like an understatement. Processing it all has been impossible. I readily use my voice to speak out, my pen to call out, but I’m not too proud to admit that I’m struggling with what to say.

I’m gutted. Flattened. Heartbroken. But what could someone like me — white, privileged, employed, safe — say that will mean anything? Change something? Help anything?

If I’m truly the ally I say I am to my friends who are hurting, grieving, crying out for help, then my voice isn’t the one that matters at all right now. Theirs is. So instead of speaking here, I will listen. I’ll listen harder than I ever have before.

I’ll listen to black voices, protesters, activists and community leaders who have been in these trenches for years, decades, centuries. I’ll listen when they speak, and I’ll listen just as hard when they speak in silent protest.

I’ll listen to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and the countless tragic others whose sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles were ripped away, blotted out in senseless acts of injustice and violence.

I’ll listen to my colleagues and friends from different communities who have long been my patient teachers. We may have walked next to each other for years, but we were walking through two different Americas. And I understand that I’ll never understand.

I’ll listen to black pastors, civic leaders, teachers.

I’ll listen to the stories of everyday Americans in big cities and small towns, urban enclaves and rural corners, who have been failed by the American promise, who have been rejected, disrespected, marginalized, suspected, accused, incarcerated, killed.

I’ll listen to anyone who will speak. You can email me at the below email address.

Because, finally, it’s my voice that should not count.

— S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.