I’m stuck. I cannot laugh, not even at Donald Trump’s hair. All day I have sat here and tried to think of something witty, something even passably funny, and I have nothing. I have tried to avoid this topic, because it hurts me and because I don’t feel qualified to speak on it. What can I offer to a conversation about Black Lives Matter?
I am sad and confused and scared. I am frustrated and angry. But mostly I am lost. I understand that racism is a massive problem; police brutality is a systemic issue that affects persons of color in ways that I can only read about and try to empathize with, but as a white woman I can never truly know. There is nothing in my privileged life that can ever compare to this. I am the product of a random act of genetics that allowed me to have light skin instead of dark, and due to that the entire course of my life is different. Privileged.
I am determined to raise my daughter differently from how I grew up. She is exposed to real history, slavery, and we explain how society has attempted to whitewash the truth just to make themselves feel more comfortable. I am not hiding this event from her, but rather presenting it as age-appropriately as possible, while also trying to explain that this horrific act is the result of blatant racism. And why that is, and why that matters, and what will become of that. We must not allow another generation to grow up thinking race is not an issue. We cannot afford to let our children figure this out on their own at some point later on down the line.
We also have to realize it is our privilege to make this choice; persons of color do not “get to decide” whether or not to speak to their children about racism. They have to, for their own safety. Can you imagine having to explain to your child exactly what to do and what not to do in an encounter with the police…at age ten? Or twelve? This is not the “Go see the friendly officer if you have a problem” talk. This is a procedural and legal rundown and explanation of Miranda rights and actions and life or death.
“This stuff is racist against whites.” Compared to what? To the horror of racism that black families face on a daily basis? To saying I want my child to survive a trip to the grocery store? To my life should be as valuable?
“If I said this, it would be racist.” Exactly what is it about minorities demanding to be treated with respect and dignity that threatens you? You already have it. You were born with it. You don’t have to ask for it, demand it. Be grateful. Then sit down and shut up.
I still have a lot to learn about racism. I have a long way to go. I am sure I will make mistakes, and I will say and write and do something that does not sit right with someone. But my heart is here. We have to start this conversation somewhere. We absolutely must educate ourselves and get out of this complacency of thinking it does not affect us. We are human. Until we can own our societal problems and injustices, we cannot afford to NOT see color.