I’m tired, my head hurts, and I just feel heavy.
…if you’d rather save your energy for listening to the voices from the people of color, I totally understand, this is probably where you should stop reading.
This isn’t supposed to be my time to talk, but I’m confused and frustrated so I will just write out all my thoughts and thinking. You might get mad at me at some point in this, if you get further than this point, but c’est la vie, am I right?
See that’s my problem though, I am so afraid to say something unless I feel so completely strong that what I have to say is right, or correct, or good, or something worth while that I don’t say anything until I have thought everything through, but sometimes I can’t think it through and when I talk to people about it sometimes they will reassure me in ways that can be helpful but I don’t know if I get anywhere in my thinking.
A black man was murdered and I am a racist.
No, that’s not right.
A suspect was detained and excessive force was used and I am not a racist, I’m an intellectual.
No, that’s not right.
A black man was murdered by an aggressive cop but not all cops are bad.
Well, can you say a cop is good if he or she protects the offender?
Okay, so cops need to be put in check and our country is still racist, but I’m not like them.
I’m not like a regular white, I’m like a cool white, like a woke white because I am ashamed of my whiteness. No, not ashamed just aware of the history of oppression with which my ancestors plagued this world.
See that’s just my problem I keep making this discussion about me when it should be about those who are suffering and angry. Those victimized by systemic issues.
Systemic issues. What are systemic issues? Hiring practices? Admissions allowances? Education disparity? Economic disparity?
I am getting away from my point.
I am tired of hearing the news that people of color are being murdered at the hands of white people.
Yes people of all backgrounds kill other people of similar or different backgrounds. What’s typically different in these cases is the point of power the killer stands from and whether they are subject to true justice.
What is justice?
When you do something and you receive the consequence of your actions for good or bad. Decided by some people or hirer ruling authority.
In the US we founded our country on the belief that those who rule should also be held accountable to the same justice that the general population is beholden to. Well, unless you don’t count as a person, but we’ve moved on from that, right?
I don’t know.
Growing up I was taught that racism was a thing of the past. That it no longer existed in our world because “sooo long ago” the civil rights movement happened and now everyone in the world knows it’s wrong to judge a person based on skin color alone. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was realized! Huzzah!
My first encounter with prejudice that I remember is something strange. A kid said I wouldn’t understand something (I don’t even remember what) because I was rich. I got so angry at something that wasn’t even detrimental to my life. The assumption that I had wealth. But it made me angry anyway, I somehow had this association that I didn’t like wealthy people, that they were bad and didn’t have real problems.
I then remember being told I had it easy because white parents don’t hit their kids, I just remember thinking my parents must have missed that memo. My grandparents and my parents had disciplined me with physical action.
Anyway, I say this to say, one of my biggest hurdles in attempting to be more “woke” is running up against this wall of people placing expectations on me, or judgments on me labeling me as a white wealthy racist. I learned from some of my peers that to be white was to be racist. To be white was to have money. To be white was to have privilege. I didn’t associate with any of that, although to a degree I now understand the third one a little more.
I think it’s hard when you try to discuss something with someone and when you disagree, you’re told you’re a racist.
But I can’t imagine how much harder it must be to be gaslit and told, “you’re just being sensitive, it’s not that big of a deal”.
Statistics can say so many things, or rather can be told to say so many things. “More white people are killed by cops.” “Based on population the likelihood that a black man is killed is much higher”
What is more telling to me is the experiences that are shared, those moments when you’re listening to a conversation and you hear, “Ah, yeah that happened to me, too” and there is this nodding that happens when people sharing a similar experience are commiserating over those aggravating moments.
Honestly I don’t how to interpret the statistics, because there are so many factors at play, but at the end of the day I cannot ignore the amount of people who have said, “oh yeah, that’s happened to me” or even those moments I have witnessed myself.
See fortunately or unfortunately it really is your experience that will shape your world view. If all of your experience with people who look a certain way is similar you begin to create a greater image in your head. If every police officer you interact with is kind and respectful, then sure it will be hard to break that image. When every experience you have with an officer is based on aggression and power, that will be your impression of them. Realistically it’s a whole lot of mixed up nuance.
So, then if everything is based on perspective why are the words systemic racism used? “Maybe it’s nothing to do with race, more to do with you taking it personal”. This is when we should take a moment at look at our history books again, when I think about how excited I was in school to hear that schools are forever integrated, Ruby Bridges faced adversity and now we all can go to school in harmony.
When I moved to Bushwick (more on the topic of young white male moving to a mostly brown and black neighborhood later) the school across from me was all children of color. Why? As I began to look more into it I discovered unfortunately super late in life, that a lot of schools are still “ghettoized”, that is to say lower income communities (who tend to be people of color) go to schools in their neighborhood who eat publicly funded by the government based on local income levels. So if you live in a poor neighborhood, you go to a poor school, the school has less money for programs and education tools, so that the students face a harder time pursuing higher education. The system goes on into college level potentials and the workplace.
Yes, I do actually believe at the end of the day it is up to an individual to make something of their life, to choose to fight against whatever adversity life throws at them to succeed.
But if you were fighting all your life an uphill battle, or even if you decided not to fight all the time, settle a little bit like other peers who have an easier time, you’d be tired of seeing the inequality.
Life isn’t fair. I know that, but if I have in my power the ability to bring a little more fairness, wouldn’t I want to try?
But, what can one man do?
He can do everything he is told to do.
He can read all the books he’s told to read and support all the people that he’s told to support and just do it because justice.
This is where I might lose you if you’ve been with me up until now, but please bear with me a second. I don’t even know if I know you but I care about justice and fairness and you and I want you to hear me out for a second. I don’t quite understand if you want to just shut me out after this, but I will respect your choice.
I believe Black Lives Matter.
I don’t necessarily believe all the other political entanglements that go along with it.
I think there comes a time (and it sounds well and lofty coming from privilege I know) but I think we need to work together as peoples of different backgrounds to find forgiveness and walk with each other.
I can do my best for my own life, but I don’t think I can be held accountable for all the sins of the past. I have my own story within my heritage of oppression and violence, I am a descendent of colonization in a much different setting (it doesn’t justify oppression now).
I am heartbroken at every unjust death, but I will not always rage. If you know me well, I am not reactive. My anger usually runs cold and quiet. I am sorry if that isn’t good enough.
There are other fringe beliefs that can get entangled with this movement that I don’t support. Socialism can get wrapped up in this as a solution to disentangle the school to prison pipeline, I don’t agree. Historically socialism fails in many settings of various culture. And as a country we are so wide and diverse in people and topography that I don’t think it will work here.
I know that it is well intentioned, but hearing, “You’re one of the good ones (whites)” to me is reminiscent of micro aggressive language to people of different culture who code switch to “public white spaces” and are told by white people, “You’re one of the good ones” Neither one is justified.
When people riot my first response feels like that of an elementary school teach (or probably my mom), “throwing a temper tantrum will not solve your problems”. While I believe that is generally true, sometimes people get to their breaking point. Dr. King (the man white folk like to quote to stem aggression) pointed out that riots don’t come out of thin air, they are the culmination of people perpetually silenced. Sometimes rioting is misguided. But if we can support the individual right to go get a hair cut we should at least pay attention to injustice and murder.
Now, why should you even care what this white man has to say? You don’t. Because I know there are many white men (including myself at times) who have done the foolish thing of speaking over or for you. This isn’t my attempt to tell anyone to do anything. Really this is a personal blog, just airing out my own thoughts.
I struggle writing this because it gets complicated because like I said I believe Black Lives Matter, but sometimes doing so makes it seem like I agree with everything that is part of the movement.
I struggle with not writing anything because I don’t want to be part of the silent “unjust on the side of oppression”.
I struggle with writing this because it shouldn’t be my platform to speak on.
I struggle with not writing this because it helps me organize my thoughts and feelings and I am afraid that people will not feel supported or loved by me.
I struggle with writing this because am I just trying to sound clever and cool and want people to give me props or tell me I am woke and on the “right”side.
At the end of the day I know this: we have broken systems in this country because people are foolish and selfish and if we want true justice we need to recognize our issues and dismantle some long held traditions. Black lives matter and they are worth me sounding foolish or potentially being perceived as racist from people of color as I share my feelings on the matter.