Last night while I was away obliviously celebrating my birthday, protests in Houston and across the country standing up #JusticeForFloyd which started peacefully turned violent. While I do not want to encourage more violence if we don’t all take a moment to hear this outrage we are once again letting people of color down.
As a white woman who grew up in middle class Houston, was educated in private, white schools and had my college paid for by my grandfather, I have to acknowlege my privilege. I can say that as a high school student in the late 70’s I was never worried I would be picked up for some silly mischief activity I might be doing – from driving too fast to necking in a private parking lot. No one ever questioned why I might be jogging in a neighborhood. I never had to caution my teenage sons to be careful and respectful if they got stopped for a “routine traffic stop” even if they had done nothing wrong because that didnt happen to them. I want to be clear this doesnt mean that I didn’t have significant challenges growing up in my childhood – because I did – but I was always given the benefit of the doubt because I was white. White privilege does NOT mean your life is easy all the time. It simply means that the first thing people see is that you are not a person of color, which gives you some random credibility that you may or may not deserve.
Last night when things turned violent we need to understand this is a reflection of the generations over generations of people being mistreated because of the color of their skin. This is outrage, anger, fear and hurt with no where to place it. It is not my place to make judgements about this. And this certainly is not a time to say these protests undermine any of the outrage we all should feel for George Floyd, his family and friends, people of color – our friends and those we may never meet – and our nation.
I live in the most diverse city in the nation and yet, I still witness racism. I am always surprised because my group of friends is pretty damned diverse so I tend to live in this bubble where I think everyone gets it. (Mitake #1 on my part).
I am ashamed to say I have been in the room with people who have used racial slurs, or said demeaning things about people of color. Sometimes I speak up, but sometimes I do not exhibit the moral courage to do the right thing. I am ashamed when I do not (at the time and relive it over and over even now). It is this behavior and the unconscious bias that I can exhibit where I must take part of the ownership for all that is happening. I ask my friends of color to forgive me for this and call me out when you see it.
Please, my friends, stand up on this. #BeTheChange #JusticeForFloyd #StandUpRiseUp