To my fellow white folks,
To my fellow “liberal” white folks,
I can already tell by my hesitancy of to whom I should be addressing this article, that this is going be a tough one to write.
Alright, to start things off, I should probably clear up any confusion anyone might have, including my own. You might be asking yourself, “Why am I reading about race from that male feminist dude that talks about menstruation?” To that, I have a few responses.
- I’m touched you think of me as “that male feminist dude that talks about menstruation.” Cheers.
- If I’m going to be a future stay-at-home dad, shouldn’t I be teaching my kids about race and racial privilege (or lack thereof)?
- You know what, I don’t need to justify anything. This is my column, and the issues I’m going to discuss justify themselves.
There is a specific intensity that has formed recently around race and racial injustice. Black Lives Matter, a brilliant group, has formed to protest and prevent the deaths of innocent people of color, and people not of color, at the hands of police and other authorities.
In its wake, we, as white people, have been a shit show.
Some of us have decided to protest Black Lives Matter, by saying All Lives Matter. These people are beyond help. Their incapacity to interact with the nuance of these issues, instead relying thoughtlessly on their gut reactions, renders them far beyond my skill as a writer. I wish all the luck in the world to whomever wants to try to drag them into the light.
[UPDATE] Hayes blows up Twitter with #BlackLivesMatter discussionFor six hours Thursday evening, University of Wisconsin star basketball forward Nigel Hayes tweeted 44 times supporting the Black Lives Read…
Others have fought the good fight. They have listened, educated themselves and acted. Well, some have. Others, like myself, have only done the first two. Other white folks still have only blinked in the wake of this brutality against people of color.
Though sentiments may be stirred, anger felt and tears shed, I believe there’s a large contingency of white folks, including myself, who for some reason feel hesitant to link arms and fight alongside our fellow Americans for their right to prosper, or at least have the value of their lives acknowledged.
Well, here’s my shot in the dark for why that is. As Nigel Hayes said recently, “Racism toward black people isn’t getting ‘worse,’ it’s getting filmed and shared for all to see what actually goes on.”
What resonated with me in this quote was its emphasis on history. Racism, as well as a litany of other -isms, has stained America since its beginning. It’s practically the ink with which the Declaration of Independence was written.
For the most part, we, as white people, were responsible for it. Maybe not us specifically, but our ancestors were. Maybe not even some of our ancestors, but their contemporaries sure were, and our ancestors mostly just let it happen.
This affects us even now, because part of acting against the racism of today is to assume the guilt for the racism of our ancestors, simply because they never did. This doesn’t mean going up and apologizing to every person of color you see, but rather accepting with every fiber of your being the reality of our role within our country’s history.
We were not the victors, as your APUSH textbook might suggest. We were the conquerors, the slave owners, the sometimes kind-of allies but mostly the oppressors.
Now, we must accept that weight to motivate us. Whether we should act is out of the question because it is us who must make amends. But we can’t just speak and act out for people of color out of the kindness of our hearts — though that should be part of it. We must do it because we have a debt we owe that’s been unsettled and mounting for some 400 odd years.
It’s scary, I know. No one wants to feel like a bad person, especially since we’ve been groomed by our society to think we’re the good guys. So, instead of pretending to be them, let’s actually become part of the good fight, rather than be the bystanders or the villains of our country’s story.
Let’s start with something simple. Say “Black Lives Matter” out loud. Was that so hard? No. It feels kind of good, doesn’t it?
Now, get informed, listen with ears as wide as you can make them from people who are affected by our country’s racism, and make a difference.
I’m scared, too. But it’s no excuse for silence. Let’s act together.