“If you don’t want it for yourself why are you willing to accept it for someone else?”
It’s taken days for me to wrap my mind around the things that are taking place in our world and in our country. I haven’t known the words to say and thought I was doing the right thing by not saying anything at all. My biggest fear and thing that was holding me back was fear of offending my friends, family and anyone in the black community by making it seem like I could possibly understand what it is like to be in their shoes.
After thinking about everything heavily day in and day out, sharing a few things here and there thinking that was enough I finally asked a friend “What can I do?” It wasn’t this friend’s responsibility to educate me, but to bring awareness and then it was up to me what I did with their words and our discussion. I later talked to a black female friend of mine that I have the utmost respect for and both of these conversations shed so much light and opened my eyes.
Being a white person I can’t begin to imagine or try to understand what it is like to be black or mixed or any other color. Like one of these friend’s said, “We can’t help what color we were born.” And that’s true I can’t help that I was born white, but I can help what I do because I’m white. It took me until now to grasp the concept of “White Privilege,” because I always saw that as someone who had privilege in terms of money, fame, or materialistic things, but I see that the word white in front of privilege adds an entirely different meaning.
I am a young white woman in America. I am young white woman in Alabama. I was not raised to see color. I was not raised by racist parents or surrounded by a racist culture. From my perspective. From a white person’s perspective. I say that because in reality I probably didn’t see racism that was happening right before my eyes I didn’t understand what it was. I guess I believed since I wasn’t a racist and I didn’t act in racist acts that others were doing the same. But that’s not the case. I don’t know what my black friends experience around me.
I have a man in my life that I well tell anyone he is my brother. He will tell anyone that I am his sister. He was one of my mom’s student’s and growing up he was always apart of our family, my mom would always say “That’s my son.” This man, one of the best men you will ever meet, is a tall dark black man. I’ve never thought anything about it. Until now. Until now did I not see the different lives we have. And all I can think about is what if it were him. What if he were the next headline. What if someone saw his color and deemed him as a threat. What if he were pulled over and automatically seen as something he is not. All because the color of his skin. I would do anything to protect this man and after processing these thoughts I immediately felt convicted.
I understand that my silence was just as bad, it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t anything. I don’t want to be apart of the problem I want to be part of the solution. I want my words to mean something. This friend I spoke with told me “You, having a platform and inspiring others, can reach out to so many others who don’t. Simply, because you are the majority (white), you can strike a spark in the white community before I can, as a black woman.”
I have felt this burning in my chest, been in tears seeing videos and hearing people’s stories and this morning it hit me what I was feeling. It’s the same feeling you have when you’re sitting in the pew and your heart starts racing. The Holy Spirit is pulling you in, you’re feeling like you have to do something right here right now. That feeling of conviction is what I’ve felt over this situation. Now is the time. It’s time to move.
I don’t want to raise my children in a world full of hate. Racism is hate. There are bad people. There will always be bad people. But that can’t be the majority. Racism cannot continue to destroy lives. We cannot continue being divided. So I’m standing up and saying it can start with me. In my family, my friends, my workplace, my church. I will be better. I will be aware. I will not condone acts or words of racism. I will not raise my children to see fault in someone’s color. But to value others differences.
If you have felt the same way I have then now you know it is your time to move. What if it were your sibling or friend who was given looks at a store or gas station or written off as a “thug?” It makes no sense, because it isn’t right. Enough is enough.
I understand that I will never understand. But I stand with you.