To all of my white friends and followers:
Many of you might not “know” what to say. Neither do I.
Some of you might not “know” where to start—and I’m not sure I do either.
What I’m going to do is start with myself. I’m going to ask you and challenge you to start with yourself too.
Disregard what you think makes you unique. Disregard whatever it is that makes you think you’re exempt from racism. Disregard your pride and your ego.
To those of you who think you don’t “need” to do the research or the work, please hear me out. It is uncomfortable to admit, but I too have stood where you stand.
The first thing you can do is take an introspective inventory of times in your life when you’ve “felt” the racial divide, personally. Even in ways that the divide benefited you. How those interactions were changed because of the color of your skin. How they could have gone differently. How they very well may have gone differently if you looked “different,”—and by that I literally mean, if you weren’t white.
I have benefited from this. I was once arrested by a white police officer. I was open in my disdain for that white police officer. I vocalized my disdain for that police officer. I actively yelled that I did not want to be transported to the local precinct with that officer in the car.
What happened, you ask?
My family and friends were called. I was kept safe. I was let go.
Why, you ask?
Because I am a petite white woman.
Literally, yes. I believe that is the only reason.
I wrote “felt” in quotation marks above because the way you (people just like me) feel in those instances is a de facto byproduct of your whiteness. A byproduct of our whiteness. Your feelings are not universal. Your experience has not been the same as people who have skin that looks different than yours. Whatever you feel, please understand that your feelings are what they are because they have been shaped and affected by the literal fact that our skin is lighter than other people’s.
Guilt, outrage, anger, sadness, distress. Flippancy, confusion, misunderstanding. Whatever it is you’re feeling, please know that it is all a byproduct of the color of the skin you were born with. The skin that you didn’t ask for and aren’t at fault for but that has given you an advantage in this world. An advantage that so many people are not afforded, an advantage you wouldn’t want to lose but that you did absolutely nothing to earn or deserve.
None of us had the chance to choose what color skin we were born with, but we do have the chance to choose what type of human we want to be.
It is not the responsibility of our black brothers and sisters to educate us, to change our beliefs, to explain themselves, or to belittle and change themselves to “fit in.”
It is our responsibility to re-educate ourselves, to alter the way we look at the world, to give the benefit of the doubt, to have the uncomfortable conversations, to unpack the biases ingrained deeply in our beings, to act with fucking compassion and kindness, and listen and learn every chance we get.
If you are white (like me), you have biases. On some level, whether you realize it or not, you (we) are racist. It is not necessarily blatant. It is not necessarily on purpose. It is not necessarily your fault. It is not necessarily what you chose. It is not necessarily what you believe about yourself or want to identify with. But, I assure you, it is true.
What we think about the world is a direct reflection of the way we’ve experienced the world; that is simply not up for debate. And for all of us (white people), it’s been far easier than it has been for our black counterparts and friends and peers.
I ask you, I encourage you, I implore you…to get honest with yourself. To get real with your friends and your family who may see things differently. To do the right thing. To be a good human. To treat others the way that you would want to be treated, the way that you have been treated, albeit based on no merit of your own.
To my POC friends, I promise to do better. I promise to speak louder. I promise to fight harder. I am sorry that I haven’t done so in the past, and I hold only myself accountable for that. I am so sorry.
I love you. I stand with you. I will fight with you and for you until we see change.