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June 29, 2020

I Never Thought Being White Meant I Was Privileged

A friend recently shared with me after a subjective Facebook post that being white automatically makes me privileged. Shortly after him, another friend messaged me with a book recommendation called “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo in order to educate myself on my biases, and defensiveness of white privilege itself. I’ve never before had to ponder, or sit with these issues. I’ve never before had to sit with the idea of what it would feel like to be a black person in this country. I’ve never known anything about privilege. My naive self interpreted privilege as being born into a family of wealth where material things were always easily accessible. I never thought of white privilege as being able to talk my way out of a ticket whenever I was pulled over by a police officer. It never meant that having access to top hospitals, and doctors was in fact a privilege, rather than just a right. It never meant that I didn’t have to worry about contracting Covid-19 just because I was part of the majority of the race who didn’t have access to those same hospitals, and doctors.

I come from a family of four generations of police officers. My views and admiration toward law enforcement combined with my disdain for law enforcement using unwarranted force on the black community automatically puts me in a category of someone who is frowned upon. It has pigeonholed me as not just the person who comes from the family of cops, but also the person who doesn’t understand what her own privilege means. In this case, ignorance isn’t so blissful. But, yet, despite my ability to educate myself on things that maybe were not so clear before, I have become an individual who has received scrutiny, backlash, and has been ostracized on my own social media page.

Perhaps this is where the very challenge itself lies. The inability to discuss highly sensitized, media glorified material – objectively.

The inability to say all lives matter without insulting the black community, even if you stand behind them. And, on the contrary, the ability to stand behind the black community, without offending fellow police officers.

Maybe we are all asking the wrong questions. Maybe instead of spending so much time debating and rightsizing our beliefs, we can remember what it means to right size humanity, or even better, a life. Are we allowed to have an opinion on both sides without being judged? Are we allowed to stand up for our beliefs while having empathy for all those who struggle for their right to be heard, and respected? Are we able to express both love, and fear at the same time? Can we respect each other’s differences while still fighting for what we believe in?

It was Martin Luther King who said, “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that”.

So how do you do it? How do you create the light, and the love?

You educate without judgement.

You listen while avoiding blame.

You don’t get trapped into hatred, closed-mindedness, and resentment.

You’re willing to throw away what you thought you already knew to learn something different, and maybe, even better.

Because in the end, ALL of it really matters!

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