This is Not About Me
This is about friends of mine who are in pain. And my friends’ friends. And their friends. And so on.
It is about millions of people that are in pain who I will never know. I do not have to know them to know they’re in pain because I don’t deny that their pain exists. I know it exists. I see it. I hear it. Now more than ever, and it breaks my heart.
Black Lives Matter
The pain is real for people of color. It is a pain I cannot pretend to understand. For better or worse, it is a pain I will never know. I will never know their pain because I am white, and I was born this way.
I will never know their pain because being white comes with privilege, which is a sentiment that makes some white people extremely uncomfortable. So uncomfortable, in fact, they get massively upset when confronted with the claim that they have it. They say that just because they’re white, doesn’t mean they don’t have problems. Yes, that is true. We all have problems. I’ll give you that.
Think of it this way.
If you were not white, your problems would be a lot different.
If you have not abandoned reading this yet, let us take a moment to be brutally honest. Would you concede that the statement is true?
Here is another take.
Were you ever sitting in a circle of kids, on an elementary school playground, all of them teasing you, and calling you chocolate chip?
That’s a true story, by the way. It happened to a girl in my third-grade class. It is one of my earliest realizations that the color of my skin, something entirely out of my control, spared me from ridicule.
That, my friends, is the bare minimum of white privilege. It grows from there, in different ways, at different levels, for different people.
The playground incident was an impactful lesson about how wrong it is to be a heartless agitator.
Denying the prevalence of white privilege is heartless and agitating.
I have no shame admitting I have privilege. It’s true.
I grew up with the benefit of seeing successful, high profile, and famous people of color influence the culture around me. That could be a contributing factor for why people claim racism is a thing of the past.
Let’s be honest once more. Just because Beyoncé slays, and Obama served two terms, doesn’t mean that people of color are on any sort of level playing field. Both are on the receiving end of some of the ugliest racist vitriol from people who exist among us. All because they are black.
Throughout history, white people have been the oppressors and people of color have been the oppressed. I didn’t make the rules. The system was in place well ahead of my existence, and there was a time when I never thought twice about it. Those days are long gone.
I think about it now, and I think about it a lot.
I want my friends, and their friends, and so on, to know that I see you, and I hear you, but above all, I want you to know you have an ally in me.
I commit to you to listen, learn, empathize, and adapt. I commit to communicating honestly and openly. I commit to actively attempting a deeper understanding.
Acknowledging my privilege and stepping back to prioritize the lives of my fellow humans, who are in enormous pain, is the least difficult step I can take toward an enormous mountain.
Nobody can speak racism out of existence. Racism must be plucked from the fabric of society with intentional action. Denying its existence will not make it go away. Being aware of it, and adjusting how we behave toward each other does.
Open Your Eyes
It is impossible to ‘not see’ color. To ‘not see’ means to close your eyes.
The worst thing that happened to me in the last 48-hours is that my dog pissed in my bed and my feet got wet. I was stripping my sheets and doing laundry by 5:30 a.m.
I was not pinned to the ground, knee to neck, by a cop who had no business carrying a badge.
I have been pulled over by the cops more than five, but less than 10 times in my life. Not once after noticing the swirling lights in my rearview mirror was I ever afraid of the forthcoming encounter. Annoyed? Yes. Upset? Absolutely. But scared for my life? No. Never.
Most of those stops resulted in nothing more than a warning. I have received a couple speeding tickets, and only once did I wind up in handcuffs, but they allowed me to have my hands in front of me after enough complaining.
I did not get murdered.
George Floyd’s life did not matter to Derek Chauvin and the three other complicit officers – Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng.
To say that all lives matter is a lie. To say they do is willfully ignorant. It is outright denial. It is a spoon full of sugar to make a turd taste better. It is throwing a sheet over a mess on the floor and calling the room clean. To say all lives matter is complete bullshit.
All lives need to matter, but they won’t. Not until black lives do. We’re not there. Not even close.
It is not painful to say.
It is not hard to say.
Black. Lives. Matter.