When are we going to get it? It’s definitely not about us.
Not really, anyway. I get it. Feeling “accused” of racism is hard. Just like #notallmen are rapists, #notallwhitepeople are racist. Not on purpose, anyway. In some ways, many of us live in a bubble, the privilege bubble. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s okay to live there. You can’t help living there. You were born there. Most of your experiences take place inside that bubble. But when the experiences of others press up against that bubble, don’t retreat.
We need to stop turning away, and saying, “Not me! Not anyone I know! It’s not in here, so it’s not REAL.” It is real. Racism happens. Every damn day. And while benefiting from the system is not the same as actively supporting it by any means, we have GOT to stop sticking our fingers in our ears and trying to sing over the experiences of those who are being exploited, undermined, and, yes, even gunned down, by the system EVERY DAMN DAY.
As a tall, white professional woman who speaks standard English, I can go anywhere. I can do anything. I can ask authority figures for help, and expect that it will be granted unto me without hesitation. I worry about my younger brothers if they are running late. People drive intoxicated, deer jump out into the road, accidents happen. But never do I worry about their powerlessness in the face of American power structures. I have watched my father, going 15 miles over the speed limit, run a red light and get pulled over. Nothing untoward happened when he handed over his military ID card and told the officer he was lost. A complete and utter lie, since he had grown up in the area. The officer gave him a verbal warning and directions with a smile. I shudder to think what would have happened if he weren’t a white, male, middle-aged veteran. It scares me to think about what would happen if I didn’t reside safely inside this bubble.
And yes, it pains me to hear the stories of others who are not as privileged as I am. And yes, I want those stories to go away because I don’t want them to be reality. Of course I want to stand up and say, not here. Not by me. Not to me. Not by everyone. Just stop talking and let me live in peace.
But that’s wrong.
Sometimes being an ally, sometimes being a decent human being, means shutting your mouth and listening. Letting the experiences of others sing over your own frantic noises. Letting the unpleasantness push up against the bubble. Waiting to be shown the best way to help, instead of running in like a bull in a china shop, hoping to stop the displeasure of having to listen to someone else’s pain.
Because it’s not about us. In the whole of history, it so rarely has been. So let’s stop interrupting and trying to make it that way for our own comfort.