Hi, everyone —
If you are sitting there with your head in your hands feeling…. despair, sorrow, rage, overwhelm…. you are not alone. I’ve been trying to write a blog post for weeks, but life keeps changing and getting more intense, so I keep changing my focus. I also feel all of the emotions above and know from my studies that running away from the emotions and the source of the emotions is not helpful. We need to turn toward them, feel them, understand them – it’s the only way we can start to make the changes that we are being called to make.
I believe – just my personal feelings – that we are being called to wake up to the way things are, not the way we wish they were. We live in a deeply racist society. That just IS. It’s been there since the beginning and continues in both obvious and subtle ways.
I asked myself: Have there been times in my life when my skin color gave me advantages? YES. Many, many times – as a matter of fact, always in all ways. I never doubted that:
- I’d be considered for a job I was qualified for;
- I’d be able to rent an apartment or buy a house I could afford;
- I would be safe if ever in police custody;
- I could live wherever I wanted to;
- I could walk, jog, birdwatch, go about my daily living unharmed.
So, number one, I see my privilege, recognize that I have taken that for granted and that many of my brothers and sisters never had that luxury and still don’t.
“White privilege” does not mean that I/we have had an easy or trouble-free life. Not at all. It simply means that my skin color did not pose additional problems or barriers in my life. It’s an important “plus” that I had.
“Black Lives Matter” does not mean that all lives don’t matter. Of course, they do! But sadly, it is not a here-and-now reality that “all lives matter” – it is obvious that some lives are more valuable than others if we simply look at history and our current reality. Black Lives Matter simply means – black lives matter too.
I truly believe that the only way changes can be made is when we face squarely the way things are. Own it. The time is long past to try and pretend that we (as Americans) are better than anyone else, that we behave better, have higher morals, are more righteous – whatever. No. We are human, we are subject to the same evils as any other human being, the same failings as any nation.
So – speaking to my white brothers and sisters — what can we do?
- Please join peaceful protests if you are so moved. It is important to speak out or join with others in whatever way we can to show and demonstrate our support for equal justice and equal treatment.
- Educate yourself. Listen to people. Read African American history, read African American authors. They will tell you the truth of their lives and their ancestors’ lives.
- Contemplate, ponder, think. Assess all the ways your skin color has made your life easier, smoother, better, and then put yourself in the place of someone else whose skin color is different and think about how those circumstances might have been different.
- Be honest with yourself and identify where your biases are – the most important step in changing unconscious behavior is to make it conscious.
- Donate to organizations you believe in.
Although it feels overwhelming, humans have done this before. As bad as things may be today, they were worse. They were worse for people of color when I was growing up, they were much worse 100 years ago. We have tried to create a more just society and have made some strides. We still have a long way to go.
I’m sorry to be “preachy” in this post, but I feel we are at a tipping point in our country, we are at a very important choice point and it’s vital that we are awake and paying attention. Let’s join together to take the next step in creating a truly just and equitable country.