United We Stand

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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 and 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.

White Privilege

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’s take a moment to be brutally honest. Would you concede that the statement is true?

Here is another take.

Were you ever surrounded by kids on an elementary school playground, 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 spared me from ridicule.

That, my friends, is the bare minimum of white privilege, and it grows from there, in different ways, at different levels, for different people.

Own It

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.

Perspective

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.

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8 thoughts on “United We Stand”

  1. Travis you make some wonderful and valid points about being privileged because of the color of your (our) skin.
    I especially could relate to the statement about the young black girl being ridiculed because of her brown skin. As a “different” child ( gay male) I felt the same shame as the young girl you refer to.
    I believe in a statement BlackLivesMatter!
    I also believe that GayLivesMatters, muslim lives matter, elderly lives matter , disable lives matter, animal lives matter …,,,

    1. Hey Andre! As always, thank you for reading. This piece has been on my mind a lot as of late, but it naturally spurred the next one I’m working on now with it being Pride month and all. And it has to do with marginalized segments of our population and the importance of allies. Because we’ve all been there, in that place of being alone and different. Stay tuned! Hope all is well in Louisiana! ~Travis

  2. Love it Travis. Nice work. The system needs to be dismantled. This country was founded on a model model that benefits whites and the power-over structure of white supremacy is what makes this country function. White supremacy doesn’t just refer to a bunch of self entitled white college pussies carrying tiki torches or angry white middle aged men carrying their dicks in there hands in the form of a high capacity fire arm. This shit is real and cops kneeling in solidarity is not going to end it. Solidarity is a start, but we need to tear this shit down.

    1. Hey Paul! Thank you for reading! I feel like we’re finally coming around to understand all this more clearly. I hope, at least. And I feel like every little bit helps at this point. Things are so wild right now. But, I’ll send you a link to something I stumbled on yesterday that was so fascinating and very interesting to me. Stay tuned! ~Travis

  3. Travis- thanks for sharing your reflective piece. I heard a definition of white privilege that said it is when you have all your regular challenges, but your skin color is not one of your challenges.

    Also if someone takes a literal definition and wants to discuss “all lives matter,” they are stepping gently over the reality that the phrase “BML” is asking to examine why there are radically tilted bad outcomes in education, health, incarceration and income. Some neighborhoods get plenty of funding for police/prison force, but little funding for ‘education force’. Go upstream for solutions. Yes, uncomfortably that means paying fair taxes to raise the lower class infrastructure to middle class standards. Instead we get from politicians are downstream solutions like prison and drug busts, to clean up the broken aftermath and push it back out of sight. It is like pushing down on spring, then putting your eye close to see if it still there, and moving your hand. Ouch, we should know better.

    1. Hey Richard! Thank you for reading and your perspective. I’m actually close to done with a follow up piece for this about being allies and I’m fitting in a little more about ALM. People are staunch about it! I’s not that all lives don’t matter, but if you honestly think you’re an ally or friend of people of color, you need to stop it. Now. But when I see people argue about it online, it’s usually just reactionary and not up for discussion no matter how it’s explained. But it’s an easy concept to understand, if you’re willing to understand. ALM didn’t come along until Black Lives Matter became a hashtag. It’s because people are uncomfortable. So sorry. And if we really were an ALM society, well, we wouldn’t still be in Afghanistan quite frankly. It’s all so strange.

      I love how you think, and thank you again for your input. We really should know better. I mean, back in the Mears and Dimond days, did you ever for a second think it’d be like this in 2020? I love that we are friends and although it’s been 8 years since we were hiking in Alaska, it’s always great to hear from you! ~Travis

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