I am angered and heartbroken by the recent news. We no longer lynch and hang black people, we just shoot them. We no longer enslave black people, we just toss them in prison. It’s all the same thing. As a white female I was born with a privilege I did not earn…the privilege of being white. And while this does not make me better than any of my black friends, it does, in this country, afford me a level of safety and security those with darker skin do not have. So, I am left with the question, what do we, privileged white people who care, do?
I have listened to all of my black friends and black students share stories of being discriminated against, unfairly treated, or, perhaps worse, ignored because of the color of their skin. Stories of racism and discrimination ranging from minor offences that are brushed off with a shrug to experiences that have left deep, permanent scars told over coffees and salads and cocktails, and in yoga sessions. I can’t put into words the anger, sadness, and helplessness that wells up in me simply thinking about some of the experiences that have been shared with me. It seems inconceivable that people I value so much could be so devalued by others simply because of skin color. And, I realize, that is part of the problem. So many of us chose not to acknowledge these things happen – yes, even in 2016. While I, and so many others, may not consciously treat non-whites as less than it does not mean that it does not happen on a daily basis. Perhaps simply listening to the stories people have to tell and acknowledging that there is indeed a problem is the first step (it doesn’t seem like enough at this point in time, though).
Innocent human beings have been killed. Whether they were sinners or saints is of no matter here. Whether they were innocent or guilty is of no matter here. Their lives were taken inhumanely and unjustly. Their lives mattered. How, as a society, can we expect black people to be anything but the stereotypical “angry black woman” or “angry black man”? How can we cease to be scared by the anger, squashing the power and silencing the voices of those with darker skin? To those who wave banners proclaiming, “all lives matter,” you are part of the problem. We cannot proclaim that all lives matter until we treat all lives with equal respect and dignity.
And so, I ask in all earnestness, what can be done? How do we stop pretending we have progressed and moved forward as a society and truly do so?