{White} Privilege and Responsibilty

I have been putting off publishing a post like this.

Why?

  • Because it’s difficult to put into words how I feel about it. (Well, that’s half-true, because I know very well what my guttural reaction is.)
  • And because it’s not politically correct. It will offend some people and ironically, probably the people who look a lot like me.
  • I even talked myself out of it because I felt like other bloggers had done an okay job of addressing the issue.

Oh, but I can’t bite my tongue any longer. I, unlike my brown-skinned brothers and sisters, have had the luxury of putting this off– of choosing a time that’s more convenient for me to deal with it.

But let’s get real, racism is never convenient. And it’s not right.

White privilege.

I said it. Does it make you feel uncomfortable? I know those 2 words (and what they represent) make me cringe at the inner depths of my being. I detest the fact that I was born into this world and afforded certain advantages merely because of the color of my skin.

My Mexican-American mother literally rejoiced when she gave birth to a fair-skinned, gray-eyed blonde baby, because she knew that I would not struggle in the same way that she did. Seriously, stop to think about that.

My grandpa, who was told that he’d never be good for anything more than manual labor, used to remind my mom not to leave me alone with him for fear people might think that he stole a white baby. Let that sink in. As a first-generation Mexican American, he was afraid to be seen alone with his grandbaby in public, because his experience had taught him better. This was in the late 80′s, people. Although it was nearly 30 years ago, certain attitudes about race *still* persist today.

The conversation started around the systemic disadvantage of young black men in this country (as prompted by the shootings of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and so many others) is one that NEEDS TO CONTINUE. This is not a new issue and it’s not one that’s going away until we deal with it. We cannot continue to sweep it under the rug or hide our heads in the sand or put it off on other people like it’s their problem.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” Whether it is our explicit or complicit condoning of racist attitudes and/or behaviors (i.e. thinking it’s funny to dress up in Black Face as Ray Rice and his wife– complete with black eye– for Halloween), we are apart of the problem.

What affects one of us affects us all. To think that our humanity is not bound up in each others’ is just not right.

So, what do we do about it?

  • See something/hear something? Say something. Is somebody carrying on about how funny it is to still dress up in Black Face? Tell them that it’s offensive. Not only to other people, but to YOU.
  • Learn to stop excusing racist attitudes and behaviors of those whom you love and care about. It doesn’t matter who says it or does it. It still doesn’t make it right. Step one in any recovery is acknowledging the problem and not living in denial anymore.
  • Be a good friend/human being in general. Be sensitive to others. Treat others the way you want to be treated. You know, the basic stuff.
  • Be proactive. Start believing that we CAN create a better world for us all. Stop accepting the status quo. Just because something always has been, doesn’t mean that it always will be. Join the larger conversation about race in this country. You can go about this a number of different ways in the spirit of solidarity and keeping peace-making in mind, but to name a few: go to City Council or community meetings on this issue; sign petitions, which fight for fairness and equality for all; attend rallies, protests, and/or prayer vigil; etc. Especially for my prayer warriors, do not cease praying for healing and reconciliation.

I wish to leave you with one of my favorite quotes by one of my favorite abolitionists. My hope and prayer is that we will see a significant change in our life time, because remember…

“We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible… So we will do them anyway.” – William Wilberforce