I have tried to be silent. But I can’t. I just cannot contain my mind and heart. I am devastated. I am afraid. I am disheartened. I am paying attention.
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, some humans, actually owned other humans. This was decided on especially superficial things such as what did or did not dangle between ones legs or the color of ones skin. This went on for centuries. People whose skin was a certain color made it acceptable for other people to come into their towns and villages and beat them, shackle them, and then sell them. Rape, abuse, fear, violence was all on the table. You could treat these other human beings however you wished. There was nothing they could do about it. And if they tried, they were killed or their children were killed or someone else they cared about was killed.
THIS WENT ON FOREVER!
My white readers, please, please, please stop and think about this for a minute. Please, side step your own white privilege and take a moment, just a moment because if you are awake at all, a moment of thinking about yourself or your loved one in this situation will be so psychically painful that a moment is all you could possibly stand.
Now, connect with that. Feel how afraid you would be. Feel how angry you would be. Feel how much your life and psyche would be affected by this supreme disgrace at being treated as being less than human. That somehow something as unchangeable as the color of your skin, was the only defining characteristic that made you sellable. Something literally as superficial as skin, was what identified you to less humane treatment, no right and no recourse.
Again, please take a minute for that to sink in. Imagine how you would feel if suddenly you were targeted, ripped from your home and away from your loved ones. Imagine how you might feel if you were able to be sold to another human being and that human being could do whatever he wanted to you...even kill you. There was literally nothing you could do about it. The police wouldn’t protect you. Your fellow same skin color people, couldn’t help you because if they did they risked death for themselves. Your life was at the mercy of another’s hand who saw you as less than and didn’t even consider you a person at all. You were property.
I didn’t make this up. This happened. This happened globally and it happened in our country. It is our legacy, our shameful legacy. It is not fiction or something black people made up. It happened. And although slavery ended a few years back, it was disgracefully less time that black people could be lynched in the south and the perpetrators of that most horrific crime would go unpunished. Well that time is still now apparently.
Fast forward to today. A white man in a position of power, just used that power to kill a black man. Held him down and killed him. Those are the facts. How is this not different? How can we not all see that treatment of humans in our world is still egregious. I am not going to dishonor some by saying we have made progress...because I will not call what happened here progress.
So long as our most vulnerable remain vulnerable to abuse of power, none of us are free. It is our job as humans to take care of each other and the world we live in. I thought that this world wide pandemic was here to show us how interdependent and connected we are as humans. But I guess that lesson became overshadowed with our demand for personal liberty. Kind of ironic don't you think?
If I were black, I would be afraid every day. Afraid to let my children out of my sight and home because I would be allowing them to go out into a world where those children could be and would be shot first and questions asked later. I do not know what that would do to my parenting. I do not know what it would feel like to send my children out into a world where I would have to worry about the people that were supposed to protect them, killing them.
Please do not blame black people for the unrest. The unrest has been here all along. Your white privilege just made it easy to not see.
I do not understand the world we live in. I do not understand how a person can hate someone or kill someone else. It doesn’t make sense to me. It pains me to think about. When you tell me that a person kills another because of something as stupid as the color of that person’s skin or because they can, I fear for our collective safety and wellbeing.
Why is humanness not more important?
Please, please, please - stop judging and start seeing. Everyone, please. Try to understand what people different from yourself are trying to say. Be brave enough to listen. Be humble enough to hear. You may not like the message and you may totally disagree with it. But are you willing to bet someone’s life on the fact that you think you understand? If you are white, you are never going to understand. You can’t. It is impossible. Forever. Your white collective conscious does not afford you the experience of inhumanity that people of color have endured. You can’t wrap your head around it because you have NEVER experienced what it feels like to be treated as subhuman for centuries.
But just because you can’t ever really understand does not alleviate your responsibility to try. To really, truly try. Pretend that the person talking is your mother, your child, your lover. Pretend that the people rioting or marching peacefully have the face of someone you can understand and hear. Pretend that for a minute you are brave enough to listen.
Rioting is what happens when there is an imbalance in power. Please remember that no one speaks for everyone. The people rioting are not representative of all. They have a message and their message is not necessarily the message for everyone. There are people marching peacefully. What is their message? How does it compare to the rioters message? Can you even tell the difference? Can you not hear that what everyone wants is to be afforded the same basic right...to be treated as human and to live?
Anger is the natural human reaction to injustice. And, my fellow humans, there is a lot of that going around. People are being killed because of the color of their skin...still. So though many advances have been made, we still live in a society where it is happening. This should shock you, this should anger you, this should incite you to be willing to listen. This should stop you in your tracks and consider in what small or large way you could be contributing to this occurring.
I leave you with this...
A man killed another man because he was black and he could. He did it on camera. He did it without compunction. This was not the first time this man showed us that he had the inclination to abuse his power. Still he remained in his position of control.
If this does not upset you, if this does not anger you, if this does not hurt you, perhaps it is time that it did. Be brave enough to see that all humans are created equal, but that is something we preach but don’t really practice.
None of us are free when we live in a world where our leaders allow racism free range. All of us, regardless of the color of our skin, have an obligation to speak out and not sit silently while others are killed because they can be.
White privilege is a thing. What are you going to do with yours? You can be part of the solution or you can remain part of the problem. The choice (and this is white privilege at its core - you have a fucking choice) is yours.
For me, I am going to try to understand what all the people are saying regardless of the color of their skin. I am going to try to see where they are coming from regardless of whether I like it or agree with it. I am going to try to see us all as having the same needs, the same desires. But I am never going to forget that my experience in this world is based on the unearned privilege of being born white. I am going to remember that everything I see, hear and say, comes from this place. And this place colors everything I do. I am hoping that remembering this, seeing this, helps me to see that my experience has no story for what others have survived. So I am going to try to listen even if I can never understand. I am going to keep trying with all the rest of my days to see how I see more clearly, hear more deeply and love in spite of everything I know to be true. Love, no matter what, or who or color of skin. Love is the only thing I know that is strong enough to see us all through.
I pray for us all. I pray that we can use our current circumstance to see each other as human first and last. And have that be the only thing that matters.