Elaine Welteroth on Protests Across America: "Do Not Condemn What You Do Not Understand"

Elaine Welteroth on Protests Across America: "Do Not Condemn What You Do Not Understand"

The Project Runway judge emphasizes the importance of activism in the wake of George Floyd's death. 

Elaine Welteroth Reflects On Protests

Amid protests across the country, Bravo's Project Runway judge Elaine Welteroth continues to offer thoughtful insight on the important issues the country is currently facing.

Thousands have stepped up at protests, rallies, and vigils to support the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd's alleged murder at the hands of a police officer after he was arrested on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Elaine attended a protest in New York City last weekend, and has since shared her thoughts on protesting in Brooklyn — as well as her response to the images people are seeing on the news as demonstrations continue to be held by citizens and activists across the country.

"Do not condemn what you do not understand. Do not condemn a people’s response to pain you’ve never had to feel. Do not condemn a fight that you are not a part of," she wrote on Instagram.

In the same post, she made the inspiring conclusion: "Right now, we are at an inflection point in this country. What you say and do in this moment will be remembered as a reflection of the value you place on human life. Let the energy and focus of your fight be directed at a system that has enabled terrorism against Black people on our soil for generations. Time’s Up. This is a war for human life. Which side are you on?"

You can read her full message, below.

View this post on Instagram

*This is it. My 2am spiral post protesting protest content.* . Instead of posting footage from the (mostly peaceful) protest I attended in Brooklyn this weekend, instead of showing you triggering images of looting and shooting, and cars on fire, and Black bodies being tackled to the ground, and cop cars mowing down crowds like weeds, and our allies misunderstanding their role on the front lines and posting protest content for clout, and a President who is more focused on stoking your fear than feeding your faith in this country’s ability to build a better way forward—what feels more important, more necessary, more powerful in this moment to share with you are reminders of WHAT WE ARE FIGHTING FOR: Black life. Black love. Black Joy. Black resilience. This is what we are working to preserve. . So, this is what I will commit to sharing with you this week. Because this, to me, is the most beautiful form of resistance right now. And it is more powerful than what we are fighting against: more Black pain, trauma, and anguish. . When I wake up in the morning to a timeline full of blacked-out posts for #blackouttuesday, let this #messagefromMaya be more than a reminder to Black people to keep feeding our light in dark times. And to keep finding ways to love our lives while we fight on behalf of the many lives lost. . Let this also be a call to everyone on my timeline to find ways to LOVE the Black people in your life better. To see and to honor us in your actions and in your words—online but, more importantly, offline. In the conversations you have with us, but also the ones you have with each other—the ones we will never hear. And when it becomes uncomfortable or unpopular, let love motivate your fight. . And while you’re living and while you’re fighting, please never lose sight of the answer to this question: What and who are you fighting FOR? . Video clip via @artsyandblack: A Conversation with Maya Angelou by Bill Moyers, November 21, 1973 #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLIFEMatters #BlackJoyMatters

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Do not condemn what you do not understand. Do not condemn a people’s response to pain you’ve never had to feel. Do not condemn a fight that you are not a part of. . The question right now is not whether or not you or I condone violence and mayhem. The question to ask is what you and I have done to actively prevent this outcome? . A war has been waged on Black life in America. And it’s been building over time right in front of our eyes. Now that we’ve reached a tipping point, a different kind of Time’s Up movement is underway. Black people all over this country are demanding that our white and non-Black colleagues, friends, and neighbors step up, speak up, and join the fight. If you are unsure what part to play in times of protest, one place to begin: try NOT appointing yourself judge of a people whose constant pain you’ve had the privilege to ignore. Instead of criticizing the response to terror, consider how far you would have to be pushed to do the exact same thing? . In times of war, people only ever utilize the tools available to them. The very nature of protest is that it represents an active rejection of what someone has said or done. Until you have actively and consistently objected the oppressor, you cannot righteously object the outcry of the oppressed. Until you have survived generations of inequality without relief or retribution, you may not lead the conversation on what an appropriate response to inequality looks like. . Until your son or husband or father has been brutally murdered by an authority you pay for his protection. Until you’ve watched a cop car ram into a crowd that includes your child. Until you have fought alongside them fruitlessly, you may not offer your critiques from anywhere other than the battle lines. . Right now, we are at an inflection point in this country. What you say and do in this moment will be remembered as a reflection of the value you place on human life. Let the energy and focus of your fight be directed at a system that has enabled terrorism against Black people on our soil for generations. . Time’s Up. This is a war for human life. Which side are you on?

A post shared by Elaine Welteroth (@elainewelteroth) on

Elaine is definitely no stranger to breaking down barriers and using her voice to make a change. She was the youngest person — and only the second African-American person — to be an editor-in-chief at Condé Nast in its 100-plus-year history and is an advocate working to bring change to who and what images we see in pop culture.

The former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief also noted that this fight for social justice is incredibly personal for her.

"I love my brother. And my uncles. And my husband. And there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to keep them alive. Yours too. And because I can’t think of a single Black man in my life who has not been threatened at the hands of police, this is more than a news story—this personal. It’s personal every single time," she wrote, in part. "But I’m tired of crying as I cobble together resources, tired of putting my work aside to edit, sharpen, hone, and rewrite another caption to make sure you feel this like I feel this. I’m tired of my words feeling futile as I watch my non-Black friends post about everything but these crimes against our humanity."

She continued, "What Black people in this country need more than me or any other grieving Black person who is expected to broadcast our pain and speak out again and again on this same issue is for our WHITE FRIENDS to SPEAK UP and TAKE ACTION."

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It’s been hard to be on the Internet lately. But last night my brother asked me to say something about the death of #GeorgeFloyd—when I find the words—because he thinks people will listen to me and respect what I have to say. Well, I still don’t have the words. And if I’m honest, I’m tired of searching for them every time we have to watch another Black body slain in plain sight. But because my brother asked me to, I’m going to write what’s on my heart—this time without editing, without perfecting, without worrying about whether or not this will make you care enough to do something. Because if you’ve seen the video of a man gasping for air, begging for his life, being suffocated for six whole minutes by a police officer and you have done nothing about it, then my words don’t matter to you anyway. . I love my brother. And my uncles. And my husband. And there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to keep them alive. Yours too. And because I can’t think of a single Black man in my life who has not been threatened at the hands of police, this is more than a news story—this personal. It’s personal every single time. . But I’m tired of crying as I cobble together resources, tired of putting my work aside to edit, sharpen, hone, and rewrite another caption to make sure you feel this like I feel this. I’m tired of my words feeling futile as I watch my non-Black friends post about everything but these crimes against our humanity. . What Black people in this country need more than me or any other grieving Black person who is expected to broadcast our pain and speak out again and again on this same issue is for our WHITE FRIENDS to SPEAK UP and TAKE ACTION. . My friend @lupitanyongo called for the only kind of Internet challenge I care to see right now; it’s called the #WhiteAlliesChallenge. It goes like this: If you love me, if you love our culture, our music, our TikTok dances, our movies, our style, our bodies, then it’s time for you to find a way to FIGHT with us when we are under siege. Stop waiting for us to say something you can RT, and start digging into your own soul. Find a way to put yourself (& your TL) on the line. With us. For us. NOW is the time.

A post shared by Elaine Welteroth (@elainewelteroth) on

She implored people to take action and offered up this powerful message: "Going to try to get some rest now but one thought that I’m taking to bed with me tonight is this: Let’s go to bed with a plan and wake up with a purpose. Bc NO ONE CAN DO YOUR WORK FOR YOU."

She also listed several ways we can all step up and help, including going out to vote.

View this post on Instagram

As expected, I woke up to a feed full of black posts. While I respect and deeply appreciate this show of solidarity, and while there is no one “right” way to protest, the leaders of this movement that you desire to support are asking that you stop using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter because it is wiping out the Black voices that need to be amplified—today and EVERY day. It is also blocking important and necessary pathways for communication and activism to continue. . It is also distracting from driving people to the polls—today is the #SUPERTUESDAY of postponed elections in many states. Elections for the Presidential primaries race are taking place right now in: . New Mexico . South Dakota . Washington, D.C. . Montana . Indiana . Maryland . Pennsylvania . Rhode Island . So, if you choose to Black out your grid (the lowest of low hanging fruit in a time like this), I would love for you to also share in your captions what your activism looks like in real life, offline? What you are dedicated to doing, reading, donating, and organizing today? If you or someone you love lives in one of these states, have you/they voted today? Who are you talking to about this issue? How are those conversations going? . This is not an indictment on anyone. This is a call to action. When we know better, we do better. Let’s do better, fam. 💌 Here are hashtags for allies to use in solidarity: #BlackLIFEmatters #elevatemelanatedvoices

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For the latest reporting on the George Floyd protests from NBC News and MSNBC’s worldwide team of correspondents, including a live blog with minute-to-minute updates, visit NBCNews.com and NBCBLK.

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