Racism & White Privilege

Racism & White Privilege

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I have honestly been struggling to decide whether to write a post about the current events going on in this country. Mainly because I am not certain if anything I say could possibly be sufficient. I also worry that I may say the wrong thing. Racism is such a difficult subject and one that is so deeply personal for so many.

However, one of the quotes that has always stuck with me is one from Sir Edmund Burrows. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” So I must speak my truth and I know I must speak up because silence helps feed the hate.

After yet another unarmed black man was killed by a police officer – blatantly murdered for all the world to see – our country is in crisis. Though if we are being honest, it has been in crisis for a long time. The racism so deeply embedded into our culture has started to slither its way back out from under the rocks it hid under. Though, I know for many it wasn’t hidden. It was never hidden.

I used to think that racism was going away. That it was getting better. It had to be right? I mean, we had to be progressing as a society right? I know that there are still groups out there like the KKK and white supremacists – but they aren’t that pervasive. Right?

I knew that there were still instances of racism in the world – but I never thought that it was still this bad. I saw things as hidden or subtle – because for ME, as a white person, they were. They aren’t hidden and they aren’t subtle to the people of color who have to deal with it every day.

Taking a hard look at myself…

Part of my process has been to look hard at myself and back through my life. Have I done or said things that were possibly racist – sadly, if I am being honest – yes. When I was kid and stupid – I told jokes that I think back on now and cringe. I said things back then that I know NOW I would never say.

And in this process, I have had to figure out why or where I would have even got the idea that these things were ok.

In retrospect, I know that I have had people in my family who had racist beliefs. I remember my grandfather having a HUGE issue with my mother dating and later marrying a black man. Even though he was himself married to a Japanese woman. Hypocrite much?

Apparently it was only black people that weren’t ok for him. (As time went by he ended up loving my step-father which gives me hope that everyone can change.)

In fact, my grandmother (by marriage on my father’s side and a very “religious” woman) also had an issue with that marriage. She called my dad – my mother’s EX-HUSBAND – to express her ‘concern’ about my mom’s pending nuptials. Mind you, my parents had been divorced for 13 years at this point. She was worried about how my mother marrying a black man would affect me – and ‘what was he going to do about it’. To which my father responded, “Not a damn thing. She is happy and I am happy for her.” Then he hung up on her.

Clearly, I had some people in my life who influenced me without me really understanding that was how they felt. But I never thought it was blatant racism, I called it ignorance. I honestly thought that they were just old fashioned and only old people thought that way. That is just how THEY grew up – that is how I excused

Racism & hatred are taught – but so is love & acceptance…

Thankfully, I also had loving and accepting people in my life who helped guide me more that the others did. As I grew up and matured, I began to recognize how bigoted some members of my family really were. I believe that they helped me become a better person. Still I know that there is always more for me to do.

I also fully understand that I approach everything going on right now from a place of privilege that being white has afforded me. So, I can only try my best to understand and support those I know and love who are black and hurting right now. I can only try to take a good look at myself and recognize if and where I need to change and do better. To also be a voice among the many who need to stand up and say NO MORE.

My White Privilege…

I know that I will never be able to fully understand. I will not ever really know what it is like to be viewed as ‘less than’ by someone else simply because of my skin color. I won’t ever know what it is like to feel like I have to change my natural hair simply to ‘conform to company standards’. Never have I been asked to wear ‘less ethnic clothing or earrings’. I will not ever experience feeling that who I am naturally, in my own skin, simply is not accepted.

I will likely never be targeted or singled out because I look ‘suspicious’ in a fancy department store. Nor will I get pulled over because the officer thinks my car is too nice for me to be driving. Or get the police called on me for sitting in a Starbucks waiting for a friend. I will never fear for my life when an officer walks up to me.

I will never experience racism and the kind of hatred that so many black people do. I know that.

Black Lives Matter

I don’t like that this is how some people have to experience life. I can’t imagine it. But they do. Every day this is their reality and it is wrong.

I cannot imagine the deep level of pain that the black community must carry around. I know that right now that pain is manifesting in protests across the nation. I know that there are many people protesting peacefully but I also know that there is a powder keg out there. Anger, sadness, frustration, fear, rage … all rolled up and just waiting to explode. And in some cases, it has.

I am not here to defend looters or destruction of property. As a business owner I know how hard this is going to be on many of those small businesses. I know that many of them may not recover. I don’t believe that any of these protests should end in violence. But this is a volatile situation – and people are fed up. And they have a right to be. So, while I don’t condone or defend the rioting – I can understand why it is happening.

Change must happen, racism can not be allowed to endure – our country can’t stay fractured like this and survive. Too often I hear people say “All lives matter” when they hear someone say black lives matter. And yes, I personally believe all lives do matter – but unfortunately not everyone feels that way. Not everyone is treated like THEIR life matters. And that is the problem. That is what needs to change.

And until that happens, we can’t really say that all lives matter – because to some, they don’t.

So, my pledge is to do whatever is needed for me to do. I will cast my vote to remove those in power who are fanning the flames of inequality and racism. I will use my voice to advocate for change. I will call out racism when I see it. I will not be silent unless my silence is what is needed. I will ask questions and I will learn. I will be open to change. I will help when and where I can.

I will listen.

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