This is not going to be like my typical posts filled with humor, sex, and self-deprecation. This will be a post about my past ignorance and how I’ve recently begun educating myself to understand why I have white privilege. This is a post with the goal to educate my friends and readers about how we can actively make a change, or at the very least, learn why a change is needed. This is a post that is very emotional and hard-hitting for me, and a post I never thought I would write. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this post, but I will not respond to hate-fueled responses or violence promotion. If you feel there is anything in this post that I am ignorant about or about which I am not educated correctly, please help me to learn.
As many of my friends and family know, I do not like posting anything politically fueled on social media, and I rarely engage in conversation on the subject. Many people may think its because I am clueless to politics, or don’t have passion. I’m sad that this is what is being received from my silence. That is not my intention. My intention is to remain silent on this topic because I recognize that everyone has different views, and their opinions are correct in their own way. I know that I am not the most educated on subjects enough to hold a meaningful debate, nor do I have the platform to change the way I want people to think. I don’t want to feel judged for my opinions and I don’t want others to feel this way. But I can see that the topic in America and the rest of the world today is less about politicians and more about RIGHT vs. WRONG. I would agree that politicians are speaking volumes by how they react to the situations going on today, but the main point is that we need to educate and learn as a majority, and those of us that have white voices should use them to help the ones that struggle to be heard.
The other day, I started watching All American on Netflix. This show depicts the struggle of being black in America. I didn’t realize how relevant the episodes would be in the events that are transpiring since George Floyd’s death. Then I realized, it isn’t since George Floyd’s death. This has ALWAYS been happening. I think America is just now choosing to really draw a line in the sand. There is a RIGHT side of that line and a WRONG side. Violence is always wrong, but those who are desperate to be heard and don’t know how else to get their point across can join the RIGHT side. Riots and looting aside, protests just don’t seem to be working anymore. What WILL work is education, listening, discussions, social media content, reading, empathizing, silence, loudness, dreaming, working, encouraging, walking, running, shouting, signage, petitioning, asking, just to name a few things! I have jokingly called myself “an accidental racist” which I now understand is wrong. I try very hard to not have racist thoughts or intentions, however, I recognize my place in society has inherently given me racist thoughts and intentions. I do look at people and see color. I do look at sections of the city and see color. This is not because I put them there or think they belong there, but because that is where they exist in society and for some reason, a negative connotation comes with that to white people that maintain a more privileged position. When walking alone, do I get more suspicious of a black man walking past me than a white man? Yes. Do I do this because I believe that there is a genetic difference that will make one of them more likely to attack me than the other? No. Do I do this because society tells me one is more likely to attack me than the other? Yes. Whether we know it or not, that’s where white privilege lives. Does that same black man think that I feel a certain way when he walks past me? Yes. Is he aware that I am racially profiling him? Yes. Does he think I intentionally feel that way? I can’t say. Does he know society likely makes me feel this way? Yes. But what can I do to change this? The answer is not simple, but I can start by getting educated, listening, discussing, seeing social media content, reading, empathizing, being quiet, being loud, dreaming, working, encouraging, walking, running, shouting, making signs, petitioning, asking. Most importantly, I can look in the mirror and understand that I will NEVER understand how that same black man feels.
Reading does not make my list of favorite pastimes. I’ve never once listened to a podcast. But in order for me to do better, to think better, I need to listen (that’s my lazy way of reading) about things that matter rather than having the TV on. I started listening to an Audible book called White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin Diangelo. I recognize this is by a white author which I only found out because I was writing this post, but she wrote something that really impacted me. Before 1919, women were not allowed to vote in America. Ipso facto, they could not vote to have a right to vote. Women relied on men to bring about this change because men were the only ones with voices at the time. Does this seem ironic? Absolutely. But today, and probably for quite a few generations, if not always, black people rely on white people to bring about change for their race. I don’t even want to use the word “culture” in this instance, so I leave it to “race”. This is because “black culture” is a negative interpretation and bi-product of white people segregating a whole race into a distinct social class. Culture is defined to a collective social group and my views are that “culture” should not be used to segregate racial groups. Religion is social-cultural. America includes many societal groups. But, race does not bind you to a certain societal group by way of nature. Instead, race is a genetic reaction to geographical location, plainly put. Diangelo explains this in more detail, so her book is absolutely worth reading, no matter your race. Understanding these concepts has helped me to realize not what black people are going through, but why my inherent white thoughts and actions are not always inclusive, but become racist. Also, I can in fact use my white privilege to help what society deems “a lesser race” be heard. What I hope you get by the end of this post is to listen more, try to understand, ask questions, and don’t put the responsibility of getting educated back onto black people, but instead do what you can to seek out knowledge and make a change.
I personally don’t think saying “you are the problem” is any of my business, because I don’t know what “you” know or don’t know, how “you” think, who “you” drive change for, or what life experiences have lead “you” to believe the way “you” do. Instead, I would challenge you to consider if what “you” think, feel, say, or do is having a negative impact on an individual and threatens their basic human rights, as well as Constitutional rights. I see today that the power of the First Amendment is being suppressed and the right to peacefully assemble is threatened. The problem is, I don’t remember America voting on this or passing legislation to bypass the First Amendment…? I do think that those rioters inciting violence should be dealt with in a lawful manner, not by unnecessary violence, but those peaceful protesters that you see around any city in the US should not be forcefully dealt with. I have seen COUNTLESS videos of police brutality to humans simply holding signs. The actual idiocy of law enforcement to not recognize the difference between a criminal and a peaceful protester with the right of free speech shows that we need better law enforcement (people and ideology). I will not say that all law enforcement is bad, but I do think the organization as a whole is led by people who don’t allow these workers to exercise intelligence or uphold the legal constitution. I won’t say all law enforcement is bad just like I wouldn’t say all white people or all black people are bad. What’s worse is, as a democracy, we don’t get to decide who gets placed into law enforcement or legally tried, but we have to rely on another white majority and law enforcement-allied branch of our white government to decide. I can appreciate the juxtaposition of a government built on democracy where the majority of its members aren’t being heard or seen. Unfortunately, if its a minority race, the members are even less heard or seen. But I am hearing you and seeing you, as I hope all of my fellow white people will come to do, and constantly try to better themselves so that black people get the voice they so desperately try to make heard.
At the risk of getting redundant, I want to make one last point before wrapping up. I saw a Tweet from a white man that said “Both myself and George Floyd had law enforcement called against us for a $20 crime. The only difference is he lost his life for it and I got off with a good party story. That is white privilege.” How can we educate and help our store owners to know the difference between reality and what is an inherent white, racist thought? Not just store owners, but law enforcement as well. Education, listening, discussions, social media content, reading, empathizing, silence, loudness, dreaming, working, encouraging, walking, running, shouting, signage, petitioning, asking, just to name a few things. I really encourage everyone reading this to think about what makes racism exist. Please do not get offended and jump to conclusions that I am saying all white people are racist. Understand that I am trying to convey the fact that white people have inherently racist thoughts and views, and to better ourselves, we need to learn more about it. That is what I am trying to do.
My favorite quote that I’ve read in all of this is, “I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand.” I don’t know who originally said this, but if you know, please let me know so I can credit them.
All lives don’t matter until black lives matter. Help make a change. Vote because not all of us can.
3 thoughts on “Am I the problem?”
Great post! I thank you for stepping outside of your comfort zone and your normal to try to understand my culture more. Great article
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Thank you so much for reading!
Abby the growth you have shown and willingness to look in the mirror and dissect your own problematic understandings proves your strength. The black and brown communities are exhausted and it is time for all white people to carry the burden and push forward for change for them ❤️ Can’t wait to go to a protest
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