I’m White and It’s Uncomfortable

In Miscellaneous by Caris Adel8 Comments



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.

I am complicit in a system I can’t break out of.

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.


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2 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • Cara Strickland

    Nicely done, friend.
    I’m wrestling through these things myself.
    Standing with you and with the lovely women you mention. They inspire me too.

  • Alyssa Bacon-Liu

    All I can say is, YES. This is appreciated. Yes.

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  • rachel lee

    this is amazing. I am dealing with this exact same thing right now. (I don’t know how I missed this post when you first wrote it). thank you. thank you.

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  • Emily Heitzman

    Yes! It’s so difficult to do – especially when it’s actually a privilege just to be able to consider our own privilege. How do we grieve our privilege and yet not be held down by guilt because of it? How do we recognize all the benefits of our privilege when they are so many and so complex? How do we do something about it in order to make this a more peaceful world?

    This is a daily challenge that I wrestle with alongside you.

    Thank you for this.

  • Aunt Tasty

    Preach the GOOD WORD. Oh, my. Amen and amen and amen.

  • Beth

    “My pacifism suddenly feels like privilege. I can advocate non-violence because I’m not faced with violence…But now that I’m seeing a different reality, I’m so frustrated.”

    Yes yes yes yes yes!! Facing similar realizations right now.