White Privilege is a thing: Use it as a voice
It seems as though everyone has a different opinion on the rioting and looting going on in cities throughout the United States. Chicago and various suburbs have spent the last few days protesting. Some have been peaceful, like the one in my suburb. Others, not so much. Consisting of looting, rioting, and even violence! Regardless if the destroying of cities and businesses will actually help get the BLM movement message across, there is no denying that the outrage that I’m sure everyone is feeling is justified. George Floyd was an innocent, unarmed black man who was murdered at the knee of a police officer. However, his death was only the breaking point. Unjust murders and prosecution of innocent black lives have been going on for decades. Not to say that for all of these decades we as human beings have been ignorant towards these issues, but we must stop believing that racism is only a conscious hate. It’s not. In the terms of american poet Scott Woods, “Racism is an insidious cultural disease.”
I am a white woman. My eyes are green and my hair is blonde. I grew up in an all-white neighborhood surrounded by cornfields and I had honestly never encountered diversity until I moved to the suburbs. I like to emphasize that when I converse with people about Black Lives Matter because had I never moved, not to say I’d be racist, but there’s no doubt I would be ignorant. I wouldn’t understand why the world is so upset about the issues of racism in this country. Because out in the predominantly white boonies of America, you just assume that the friendly conversations amongst your white neighbors on your morning jog are the way it is in the rest of the world. News flash: It’s not.
After moving to the suburbs, it was like a culture shock to me. The cities were different, the people were different, even the schools were different. One of my first close friends after moving here was a black boy (we’ll call him Paul), who also happened to have been my younger sister’s boyfriend. In our friendship and their relationship, race meant nothing. It didn’t matter nor phase us, though the stares from simply just being in public suggested otherwise. I’ll never forget the day when us three were hanging out at a public park, having fun and as soon as an officer walked by, the demeanor of Paul changed drastically. He warned us to be cautious simply because there was a police officer. It never used to dawn on me that some kids, mostly persons of color, were raised with the mindset to be cautious when authorities were nearby. To be cautious simply because the color of their skin could draw the wrong kind of attention from police officers. Flash-forward a couple years later after leaving a bonfire I hosted, a couple of my friends (who weren’t white) texted me telling me on their walk home that they were stopped and questioned by police officers. They hadn’t done anything wrong and I just can’t help but feel as though the walk home would’ve been uninterrupted had my friends been white. It hurts me deeply to know that my friends who I love and care about so much don’t have it as easy as others. For me, it took moving to the suburbs to discover that white privilege is a thing.
When my white mother is pulled over by a police officer for speeding, the first thing that runs through her mind isn’t “Oh no! I’m going to get into serious trouble.” It’s more like “Okay, just be extra polite and tell the officer your kid is at home sick.” And sure enough, 9 times out of ten the officer lets her off with a warning. Sometimes even on an expired license plate. As a white family, we will never understand what people of color face on a daily basis. I was inspired to write this blog post because I am choosing to use my white privilege as a voice. To use my platform to help any way I can. This is such a pivotal point in history. I am committed to expanding my understanding, to listening and empathizing with everyone involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand.
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