Thursday, July 7, 2016

Checking My White Privilege

Yet again, I move some "puff" pieces to another week because honestly, I don't even feel like talking about my home, baking or what we did last weekend. I don't even care about your outfit posts or what you did last weekend. All I can think about is the turmoil affecting our country in so many ways, most recently, in the murders of two black men this week by police--- both of which we have seen video of. I'm heartbroken. I feel helpless. I'm so distraught by the evidence of racism being channeled via our police force... but guess what? This isn't about how I feel. I'm white. I am a white person who has really never experienced racism first hand or been judged by the color of my skin. I wouldn't even know what it feels like to be racially profiled because guess what? I have blond hair, blue eyes and very fair skin. We can all say that "skin color shouldn't matter" but dude, it still does. I have an exact replica in my son and you know what? I won't have to worry like the mothers of young black children. Will my son be walking down the street in a hoodie and be profiled based on the color of his skin? In all likelihood, never in a million years. Can I say the same about one of his black friends? Nope. The sad reality is that whether we like to talk about it or not, our country has a way to go before black people are treated, and at the foundation, viewed in an equal light.

So I'm white, and I consider myself an ally to my black friends and those in my community. What do I do? Well, for one, I can think about the way that I act and the things that I say that no doubt speak to my white privilege. Even the most thoughtful and well versed white people will exhibit the affects of their privilege... we don't even know we are doing it because we have never been up against what black people have. I'm not even talking about slavery (which is obviously a huge deal), I'm talking about the people we interact with everyday, our friends and colleagues who have been mistreated by someone who views them as less than or talks down to them because of the color of their skin. Depending on where you live in this country, you'll see varying degrees of the racism that still exists in the every day lives of the black population.

I'll give you an example of how I had to check my white privilege today and I'm not proud of myself. After seeing the news about Philando Castille, I was of course reading everything that I could get my hands on(line). My husband and I were still reeling from the news of the day prior about Alton Sterling.  My first comment to him was, Oh shit, another black man was shot by police. You watch the videos and you're flabbergasted that this is happening and has been happening (before cameras started catching it)... I could see all the black women that I follow on twitter, posting articles and making comments about how white people won't ever stand up for them, articles about the ways that white people can be better. My first instinct was to be defensive. I actually said to my husband "I'm on their side and they're generalizing about all of us [white people]".. geesh, way to make it about me aka "hello, white privilege"... I'm outraged that these incidents are happening, as I should be, but the thing is, black people know this has been happening and have been standing up to fight to be treated fairly for a long time and over the course of many senseless killings. It's not too much to ask to not be executed in front of a mini mart or being pulled over at a traffic stop (while your 4 year old is in the car for the love of God!) for crimes you did not commit. Crimes, whatever, no matter what a person's record is, there is no reason for an execution in the street.

Black Lives Matter, yes All Lives Matter but in order for All Lives to Matter, Black Lives have to Matter. Get what I'm saying? Until we are truly equal, there should be no place for me to question the anger of a black person based on what I am seeing unfolding before my very eyes. It's my job to listen, support but most importantly, it's my job to speak up. If I sit idly by while these things continue to happen, then I am a part of the problem, to be sure. I have a voice. I'm teaching my child to use his and I'm not shying away from having an uncomfortable conversation with my friends and family regarding racism. If you make a racist joke? Not only am I not going to laugh, I'm going to tell you that it was wrong. If you voice an opinion that is more "whoa is me, poor white person", I'm going to politely engage you in a conversation where I can hopefully help you open your mind. It's not enough to "not be racist", you've got to openly denounce it and make it clear that you're pushing our country in the direction of true equality. We know that our government has their heads up their asses (today they're investigating an investigation) so it's up to us on the ground level, to start clearing the shit (years of ingrained racism, among other things) and making way for a population that accepts and loves each other no matter the color of their skin... easier said than done, I know, but you gotta start somewhere.

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