For the past week I’ve started and deleted this post a hundred times. Do I start with Ahmaud Arbery’s death? How last month I watched the clip of him being murdered and kept wondering, what if a video hadn’t existed? Is this what it takes for a black man to get justice? How I kept thinking everything about the clip felt like it was from the 1950s rather than the 2020s. Only to silently remind myself for me it felt this way, because it’s easy for me, a white woman, to correlate racism with the past, rather than confront its ugly face today.
Or Breonna Taylor. How I read her story and wondered how in the hell does that happen? She gets shot in her own home by police officers in the middle of the night and none of them were charged, yet her boyfriend was arrested?
Or George Floyd. The excruciatingly long video where we watch him slowly die and the whole time you’re wondering, why? Why doesn’t the police officer just remove his knee? Why? Why didn’t he let him breathe?
I also keep wondering if the entire country hadn’t spoken up would I be writing this post today? I thought about it with Ahmaud and again with Breonna. But it went by the wayside. I got busy moving and being pregnant and so instead I reposted one meme in my IG stories, that counts right? I had intentions to write something more, but it’s hard to talk about race. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t want to piss off black people for saying the wrong thing, or for looking like I get it, when I clearly don’t. And what about white people? What if they misunderstand me? What if, what if, what if…
And so I said nothing. Because even though I felt sad and angry for Ahmaud and Breonna, I, for the most part, could continue on my merry way living my life. Man, it’s awful that stuff keeps happening to black people, someone should do something! Not me, but someone.
I didn’t start recognizing my white privilege up until about five years ago. To be quite honest, my thoughts and actions previous to this time make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I’ve had a lot of unlearning to do, but for the past five years, I’ve been woke! I speak up when racist things are said around me. Well, for the most part. I do my best. And I support Black Lives Matter and have for a while. I mean I’ve never publicly said this until recently, but when talking about it with my friends (who also support it) well you better believe I chime in! And I watched videos about systemic racism long before 2020. Because I’m woke, remember?!
I’m also someone who up until recently chose to remain willfully silent about issues I’ve known were not okay. I’ve written several posts about “once you see your own privilege you can’t un-see it,” but how many have I published? Zero. So I’m not sure how helpful those have been… But do I still get to claim I’m woke so I feel better about myself?
I keep asking myself why. Why have I been so quiet when I’ve known it’s not okay and that maybe just maybe by writing a post like this I might help just one other person see it’s not okay, as well.
Because I’m lazy? Yeah, that’s part of it. Because it doesn’t directly affect me? That’s a huge part. Because it makes me uncomfortable? Another huge part. But I’ve gotten to the point where not writing this post makes me even more uncomfortable.
Just for the record I don’t think I deserve a pat on the back for speaking up, or for recognizing my own racist behavior, and yeah, I get that it was rather delusional of me to consider myself “woke” just for being less shitty than I was previously. So I guess I’m writing this to hold myself acceptable to do better going forward. How? I’m not entirely sure yet, but I’m working hard to figure that out. I’ve already started having the rough conversations at home, but now it might be time to step out of the home.
I know the majority of my readers are white. I’m also going to guess that some of you out there are either people who comment, or just instantly think, all lives matter when you see BLM posted. If that’s you, I want to say you’re correct. All lives do matter, that’s never been the question. The question, for me anyway and perhaps you can ask yourself this, is why is that your knee jerk reaction? And if it has been, it’s never too late to change and understand that by agreeing that black lives matter, it doesn’t mean that anyone is saying your life doesn’t matter. No one is trying to take something from you. There is no “ONLY” in front of Black Lives Matter. It’s a matter of showing support for people who need it right now, who have needed it for a long time, and are looking for others to step up. To care. To finally do something.
I don’t know how to end this post because I don’t think there’s an end to it, this is just the start. I have a lot of work to do.
Watch 13th on Netflix. Read White Fragility. Listen to Ibram X. Kendi’s speech about how to build an antiracist world. Learn to recognize your white privilege.
“When you know better, you do better.” – Maya Angelou
That’s just a basic start and I realize that, so I’d love to hear any resources you suggest regarding books, podcasts, articles, etc, that have been helpful!
*I linked the site where I found the image of the adorable little activists above, but if you know the original source please tell me and I’ll add that.