Tuesday, August 18, 2015

it's because I'm White, isn't it?

I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated that groups of people who preach love and acceptance won't love and accept White people because we are White. I'm frustrated that if I, a White woman, express an opinion about race in the United States, I'm "privileged," "ignorant," "biased," "bigotted," and "intolerant."
Who cares that I've done all that I can to get an outside perspective -- taking classes; reading literature and essays and histories and newspapers; talking to people of other races about their experiences; attending cultural events NOT to say, 'Oh, hey, that Colorfest though,' but to say 'Excuse me? Can you tell me about why this is important to you? Why this matters? What you love about it? What you would like me, someone who is different than you, to know?'; asking the harder, more awkward questions so that I can learn and understand something I've never experienced; attempting to help by becoming educated and active in America in its entirety, not just my White part of it.
It seems that many don't care. Many don't care that there ARE White people who support them, who want to know them, who want to help them, and who want to be equal. Yes -- be EQUAL. NOT be called names. NOT be overlooked for scholarships, jobs, awards, even justice, because we "aren't colored." NOT be beaten down and shoved aside because we "don't understand" and "cause all of the bad things to happen" because of our Whiteness.
Yes, I don't understand completely. I recognize that. I hear stories and I'm shocked. I see the way people get treated and it angers and saddens me. It spurs me to change minds and hearts. It's hard to do where I live, because the population is different. But if I see injustice, or inequality, or meanness, I at least try. Though I don't understand the depth of sorrow and pain that past and present generations perpetuate, I know that many are trying.
Yes. There is racism. Yes. There is inequality. Yes. I don't understand what it's like to walk down a street of white people and be looked at like I'm a freak. 

But I DO understand what it's like to be in a classroom full of minority students and a minority professor and be completely, humiliatingly shut down because of an honest, sincere comment about someone else's experience as a person of color -- and I never spoke in that class again. 

I DO know what it's like to be called a racist because I disagreed with a Latino's opinion.

I DO know what it's like to be called a racist because I disciplined two Black children at the museum where I work when they weren't sharing -- and the only other child, a White child, was following the rules.

I DO know what it's like to walk down a street of full of people of color and be stared at, glared at, and be whispered about because "here come those White kids" with our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with our "White charity," with our "privilege." 

I don't understand it all. But I understand a little.
I'm sorry that there are jerks in the world. I'm sorry that there are people who call names, who pass people over for jobs, who give worse service, who won't listen, who continue to express hate and malice based on color.
However. I refuse to be sorry for being White. I refuse to acknowledge arguments that blame Whiteness alone for social problems. I refuse to accept inequality against Whites, just as I refuse to accept inequality towards those of other races.
We are all, first and foremost, Americans. And as such, as Americans, we each deserve things. Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of Happiness. Freedom to laugh and love and receive aid when it is needed, from those around us and from higher powers.
No one, not one of us, deserves ANYTHING based on the color of our skin. I, as a White woman, do not DESERVE a scholarship. I do not DESERVE a job. I do not DESERVE anything. I work hard for everything that I have. And I work hard to make this world better for everyone who lives in it, no matter what color people may be. You may not think so, because I am White. But boy, let me tell you. If ever there was an advocate for equality for ALL -- you're looking at her. And that includes EVERY color. Because underneath each color is a living, breathing, thinking, hoping human being who deserves rights simply because they live. Every. Single. One.
If you ever see injustice, speak up. If you ever see inequality, confront it. It doesn't matter who it is against -- raise your voice and question. But do so with the understanding that it might have been a mistake. It might not have been based on the color of skin. It might have been done out of ignorance, instead of meanness. So ask the questions. Get people thinking. Change comes when people's HEARTS are touched, when people's MINDS are opened. And hearts will not be touched, nor will minds open, when there is abuse, rudeness, incivility, and attacks on race.

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