Privilege. I had to check how to spell it on Google. That’s how unfamiliar it is to me.
I grew up in an all white, rural community. Middle class. Typical nuclear family. 99.9% white. Christian school district.
I live in an almost all white, rural community. Middle Class. Typical nuclear family. 99% white. Christian school district.
In my community, you notice the people who are different because there aren’t that many. It’s a novelty.
I am almost 30 yrs old. I have never faced my own privilege. I have never had to confront my ignorance. Racism is something that I’ve never given much thought to because it’s never been something that affects me personally.
Then, Minneapolis, a city 4 hours north of me, exploded.
I read that by not saying anything at all you are assumed to agree. That by not verbally objecting, you are allowing the discrimination and injustice to continue. I have always felt like I am the most unqualified person to say anything. I have no idea what it is like to be anything other than white and privileged beyond belief.
But I do know what it’s like to be in a situation where someone could have spoken up and changed my outcome. When I was raped, it wasn’t in secret. Both times, there were witnesses who could have said something to make it end; who could have stepped in and saved me from the pain. I now hold them just as accountable for my pain as the person who raped me.
I know what it’s like to go to the police and say it’s your word against theirs – you have no case. No one who witnessed my rape would come to my defense. No one would advocate for me.
While this is 1 billion percent not at all the same as systematic racism and the injustice that people of color are facing every moment of their lives, it gives me just the teensiest glimpse into what it might be like to feel like the system is set up for your failure and gains from your demise.
I read a Facebook post by a white woman who is married to a black man. When they go on runs together, she runs behind him so that people won’t think he is chasing her and call the police. There was a post by another woman whose husband had police called on him because he was filling up her car with gas and an elderly woman at the pump next to theirs was worried about her being *trapped* in the car. I read stories of mothers who are terrified of allowing their sons to drive alone because if they go too fast or too slow – they could be considered suspicious and pulled over for no reason other than the color of their skin. I have read story after countless story of people who are guilty until proven innocent simply because their skin color isn’t *right*.
My heart is BREAKING. I hold my son and cry thinking about the woman who is scared to let her children leave their home. I hug my husband tighter, thankful that I will never have to know what it is like to be fearful for him just living life, but also terrified for the woman who doesn’t know if her husband will return from a trip to the store.
I don’t know what it’s like to worry about whether or not your husband or sons will get pulled over or murdered just for being a person of color. I have no idea what it’s like to live in a community that is stuck under the system that a broken and corrupt government created to keep you * in your place *. I will never know what it’s like to be a mother who knows their beautiful children have started life miles behind the starting line just because you are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) . I never have to experience these things because of my privilege.
But that doesn’t mean I have to be ignorant anymore. I will no longer scroll past articles on racism and white supremacy as though they don’t affect me. I will no longer pretend that politics that favor white people are acceptable. I refuse to stand by while people are making racist jokes and laugh nervously so I don’t make a scene. I will work to educate myself on racial inequalities and injustice so that I can raise children who are woke. We will be a family who will advocate for others. We won’t stand by silently.
As I begin to wade into educating myself on these issues- I’ll give you occasional updates. I am by no means qualified- but I am praying that by no longer being silent, I can make a small change. I encourage you to do the same.