It’s infuriating, truly maddening, that white people who are watching the terrible events unfold in this country try to excuse themselves (“All lives matter!” “Well, I’ve always…” “I don’t see color…” “…but I’m not…”) from the actions of our fellow white people. I’ve done it myself, I confess, before I recognized the wrongness of it. The racism in this country is not about YOU, it’s about US.
So, nope. Sorry. We’re ALL guilty because we move in a bubble of privilege. We can drive our cars, or carry skittles, or wear hoodies, or play in a park, generally without fear of being shot for merely existing.
I’m achingly aware that I live in such a privileged bubble. Despite being marginalized in some ways because I am not a middle aged white guy, I do not fear for my life merely because I’m breathing. I’m a middle aged, fat white woman, which in fact renders me invisible in this youth- and thin-obsessed culture. Frankly, I’m lucky to be invisible rather than all too visible, as black people are.
I am, despite my very best efforts, complicit in this mess, simply because I’m white. I live in a country that was taken systematically and violently from its original inhabitants. I grew up in a part of the country whose economy was built on the backs of people who were ripped from their own homes, beaten, raped, and forced to carry out back-breaking, heart-breaking, spirit-breaking work for their “masters” (I hate that word) because those masters believed they were ordained by God to be placed over other people.
I married a brown man, married into a family whose members I love dearly — they run the gamut from deepest black to fairest white and everything in between, and even though he and I are no longer married, I still adore my rainbow family and always will.
And I’m aware that I had the privilege of choice in that regard, too.
We live in a culture whose law enforcement is very deliberately being infiltrated by white supremacists so that the racism built into this country can be further institutionalized. We are surrounded by people who believe — truly believe — that their Creator made them superior, despite volumes and volumes and volumes of scientific refutation.
As a species, we are inclined toward violence, conflict, and chaos. But that doesn’t mean it is inevitable, because we are also self-aware. We must do the work to avoid this inevitability.
So, for ALL of us white folks: when we try to whitesplain a person of color, we are part of the problem. Saying “black lives matter” does not imply that no other lives matter. Yes, all lives matter, but because they’re in critical, immediate danger, #blacklivesmatter right now. Instead of trying to exonerate ourselves, we must listen. Learn. Educate ourselves. Read articles. Check Snopes. Read the 2006 FBI report that called out the white supremacy movement’s infiltration of law enforcement. Read as many supporting articles as you can (here and here and here are good starts). CALL OUT RACISM WHEN WE SEE OR HEAR IT! Defend our brothers and sisters against violence and oppression. Reach out across the divide that WE MADE, and learn to love. Look our fellow human being in the eye and recognize their humanity.
And finally, it’s simple: love one another.