Checking My White Privilege

The fact that I’m even writing a blog like this hurts my whole heart. The fact that I’m preparing for it to be met with some hate on my Facebook or Twitter feed makes me lose all hope. For those of you who this blog does not find well, I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry that you’ve chosen to close your eyes and mouth to the clear lines drawn in the sand. I’m not sorry that you’ve chosen to act like your privilege was something you “earned” rather than something you were genetically encoded with when you came into the world with white skin. If this finds you poorly and you want to spit some fire back, go for it. But, I’m not going to be silent about this & passively sit back. 

I’m tired of us killing each other. I’m so tired of us using fear of what we don’t know or refuse to understand as a reason to shoot at, choke, or murder each other in cold blood. And honestly, saying “each other” is doing a disservice. I’m tired of us killing people because they have black skin. It sends a shiver down my spine that we refer to this as “brutality” when it’s only one thing; murder.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you about the experience of a person of color. First, because I can’t even begin to understand that experience; thus, write about it. Second, there are millions of more important narratives you should be reading if you want to truly understand the experience of a person of color. What I am going to do, though, is check my privilege.

Truthfully, there’s never going to be a time when I fully understand my privilege. I try my best to be aware most of the time of my circumstances, but I, like many others, don’t have to walk through life thinking about the color of my skin. I was born into this world with white skin which gives me an unbelievable amount of privilege, that I can acknowledge. But, I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand my privilege, purely because I won’t ever understand the experience of not having it. Does that make sense? Not everyone gets to walk around and not think about the color of their skin all the time like I do. Not everyone gets to walk out of the house worrying only about if your outfit makes you look chubby, rather than drawing implication on who I am as a person. The experience of a person of color is one that I will never have, be able to speak on, or claim to know.

I recently shared a post on Facebook that really made me consider all the things I have the privilege of doing without thinking twice. 

Some of these stuck with me more than others, of course. My younger brother and I have been sitting in our home for 2 months. We’ve never been scared for our lives. Even if a police officer knocked on our door, we wouldn’t be scared of THEM. We’d be scared of the information that they would calmly give us. 

I mean, I’m a blonde, white girl. When I’m in the gas station, I worry about men yelling inappropriate things at me rather than calling the police because they just assume I am shoplifting. When I tell people I’m a first generation college student, they’re genuinely surprised. It’s as if my pale skin indicates that my parents are ultimately together, rich, and successful. However, with my black classmates, struggle has always just been assumed and thus placed upon them. Even if you’re NOT struggling with family or money or foundational stressors, the constant assumption that you are can lead you to a pretty angry and lonely lifestyle. Not to mention that the lack of confidence that the world seems to have that you’re tasked to disprove is like a ladder that just keeps getting taller. 

The REALLY fucked up thing is that these notions are placed upon us before we speak or act. Purely by looking at me, I appear “safer” than women of color. To police in this country, it’s been made obvious that my life is worth more. But, why?

The obvious answer is inherent racism set on us due to years and years of oppression. Institutions that came from trying to punish slaves and maintain Jim Crow laws, such as the modern police force, are still in place – just as the War on Drugs has been unfairly prosecuting people of color since its creation. Reforming institutions that are so clearly based on the foundation of racism is not possible. New and improved models are needed in the 21st century after years of technological, scientific, and academic advances.

I don’t hate police officers. However, I’m not going to sit here and say, “There are a few bad apples just like in everything.” That is diminishing these events. If good officers passively stand by and watch their partners or fellow officers commit murder, they might as well hold the civilian down. If the department puts those officers on “paid leave” until giving them a slap on the wrist, that’s condoning murder in their precinct. Maybe that’s an unpopular opinion. Maybe this paragraph is going to be the one that ruffles the feathers. But, feeling nothing, saying nothing, and DOING NOTHING makes you an instigator, whether you want to be or not. Holding criminal justice as we know it, officers who joined for the right and the wrong reasons, accountable for these actions are the only way that change occurs. 

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Truthfully, white people don’t have to worry about protesting… we saw that in the peak of the pandemic. thousands of Americans screamed in the faces of police officers because they felt their Constitutional rights were being infringed when asked to wear a mask. Some were armed, but of course, that is within their Second Amendment right. Oh, and they were white. But, people of color and their active allies take to the streets to protest the blatant murder and they’re called “rioters” rather than protestors. Their right to peacefully assemble, which is covered by the Constitution, is almost always interrupted with tear gas, violence, or more death. 

And you know what, I don’t have to worry about it. I had another blog that could have gone up. I could turn my head and keep going without saying a word. The privilege that I was born with could carry me through this life. OR, I could say something. I could join in on the conversations, not just for the clout of saying something, but for more information from the black community in how to be the best ally. I can be an active part of the protests. I can write to my representatives because their bias to listen to my voice coming from my skin tone can be seen so clearly sometimes. I can check my white privilege every day and then check it again. So, what can you do?

Let’s talk about this. If you have a way to get involved, donate, or advocate, please get into my DMs and let me know! For anyone that reads this post, or any post in the future, you are so welcome here. I am proud of you. You are worthy. I will not stop advocating for OUR freedoms.