I’m surrounded by a world I will never really know. I will never fear for myself, for my children the way they do.
Reading all the books in the world won’t change the color of our skin. Fear can’t be theorized away.
I look at them and wonder what they think of me, of my whiteness.
I wonder how they can be so nice, so friendly. My pacifism suddenly feels like privilege. I can advocate non-violence because I’m not faced with violence. Reading books on black history, reading about history in my new southern town, makes me wonder. I wonder if I was black how I would react, because the injustice does not make me peaceful.
My respect for Grace, Osheta, Austin and Christena rises even more. How can their compelling calls for racial justice continually be kind, even hopeful? How does their fear and anger not overtake them? Maybe I trust Jesus even less than I thought I did.
I watch the 16 year old black boy toss my white 5 year old in the air and they both laugh. How does his mother live with the fear?
The unfairness of it makes me angry, ashamed.
My skin carries the weight of centuries, invites assumptions, just by existing.
Is this what walking in another person’s shoes begins to feel like? For the first time in my life, I’m aware of my whiteness, and it is, to put it mildly, uncomfortable. And yet that doesn’t even scratch the surface.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to carry the burden of society’s negative assumptions about you day in and day out.
I’m sorry I was so oblivious, so apathetic.
But now that I’m seeing a different reality, I’m so frustrated.
White people! When kids being killed for skin color follows a historical trend, when white people are presumed innocent and black people guilty, when white people get hung juries and black people get terrorist charges, it is not the time for us to say ‘but we matter too!’
It is not our place to explain, defend, justify, or talk.
What we need to do is grieve with, develop empathy for, and try our damndest to understand something we will never experience. It is our responsibility to learn about the privilege that we benefit from.
And then do something.
Make the world a less fearful place to live.