Avoiding what is painful and confusing.
I haven't written anything or posted a Youtube video in a while. I was sitting here trying to think of all the things I could write about. And for whatever reason, none of it seems as important as trying to recognize how privileged I am as a white woman in this crazy country that I love, but am also feeling pretty worried about.
I am a social worker by trade and I only made two B's in my whole college career. One was in Research because it involved far too many numbers,precision and organization, but the other was Diversity. I was introduced to the idea of White Privilege for the first time in my life. I was 29. I'm now 37. At the time I didn't even know how to engage in a conversation about race and couldn't seem to face my white fragility in the face of the truth about systemic oppression and racism that is rampant in this country. I just sat there like a bump on a log occasionally nodding my head, but desperately hoping I would not get called on to speak. I knew that silence was condoning the problem, but I was paralyzed and often still feel that way. I know this is because I have been taught (not overtly) to be racist or uphold racist ideals such as: everyone has equal opportunities, or they don't want my help or need it, or what can I do anyway?
The other day I told my husband that we should be offering scholarship beds to people of color at our treatment center. He told me that we can't do that overtly because then we are assuming people of color A) can't afford treatment (steryotyping) and B) our other clients would become outraged and demand free treatment too. I walked in the house wanting to give some kind of reparation for what white people (history in my family included) have done to people of color in this country for centuries. I argued with him that it was the same principle as affirmative action, that if there were two candidates of equal deserving, then precedence would go to the person of color if that were a factor. He told me it was not doable and that, yes we could in do that in spirit and principle, but could not advertise as such...
I know it is not enough to just say I support Black Lives Matter on social media or even just to write about it. But I'm saying I want to talk about it. I'm okay being totally wrong (or at least willing to go through it). If it means that people and precious children will stop being murdered by the people my tax dollars pay to protect everyone, then I am willing to be uncomfortable. I want things to change. I want our neighborhoods to be safe for everyone and equal access to healthy clean foods and drinking water. This is some bullshit in this country and we know it!
I once had a boyfriend who was more conservative than me tell me that poor people (socioeconomically people of color have faced much greater loss of income and financial hardship than white counterparts and here is an article about how that happened https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/reports/2018/02/21/447051/systematic-inequality/ ) had the same opportunity to advance in life as he had and they just didn't take it when given the chance. I knew we would not be together in the end. I said "I dare you go say that to their face." It's one thing to say it from your downtown apartment and another to go into the home of someone struggling and say, "this is your fault." I'm talking about this story because I think a lot of my white friends think this way. Even if they aren't saying it out loud. I watched a video of two black men being escorted out of a Starbucks for sitting and waiting for a friend. A white person called the cops on them! There are so many effing people in Starbucks and none of them are my business. Nor have I ever met a Starbucks employee who gives two s#*ts who is sitting where, doing whatever. The excuse was given that they hadn't purchased anything. Who gives a F*&%$##+!!!!! I have met so many friends at coffee shops without one of us getting anything countless times without ever thinking twice that we might end up in handcuffs. It might be convenient for you to think that things are equal in this country but they are not even close. I do not have to walk around in fear of being arrested or murdered on a daily basis in 90% of this world. It is far scarier to be a person of color than I will ever know or understand. I want my white friends to see this, and to take it in.
I'm going to try to look at my own life and find out how I can contribute to equality and use my wealth and privilege to vote with my dollar and my ballot for those that are trying to set things right. When I see the slogan "Make America Great Again," I cringe, because it has never been great for all of us, especially people of color. Not for Native Americans, Mexican Americans, Black People, Indian-Americans and all other non-white Americans. It has been devastating, and cruel, and oppressive, and inhumanely demoralizing. I am tearing up as I write because I have two little girls of my own and I want them to be safe and live without fear just as I want that for all children in this country. I also want them to be better than me. I want them to dare to stand up to their friends when racist jokes are being thrown around. I want them to dare to stand up to their teachers when their non-white peers are being unfairly singled out. I want them to understand that this country is not great until ALL children feel safe and Black Lives Matter just as much as the next persons. I tried too hard to fit in for far too long. I never said anything. I knew it was wrong but I didn't know what was on the other side, and I was enjoying the benefit of turning a blind eye and going with the crowd. As I get older I know that this is not friendship, this is mob-mentality. It starts wars, and it's self-serving. But I now am starting to see that love, and truth are not only just as powerful if not more, but infinitely that is where life is really found. I was listening to John Lewis aka The Badass Vegan saying that there is no reward for being an ally. There is no pat on the back. And I cringed again, but this time at myself. I could feel that that was what I was looking for, and that is pretty messed up. Doing the right thing is it's own reward. I'm growing, I'm learning, and yes I'm sorry, but mostly I'm going to start putting myself out there one step at a time. I know there are things that I've written in this post that are probably racist or belittling in some way. I know I have blinders on when it comes to my own privilege. So I hope you comment and let me know more. I'm open to the conversation. Thank you and I hope someday to be able to celebrate freedom on the 4th of July when all people in this nation are truly free.