Posted on | November 26, 2014 | 4 Comments
I’ve gone back and forth about posting this, but ultimately I decided to stop lurking in the shadows and trying not to piss people off and just say what I think. So this is me, climbing way out on an unpopular limb to announce that I am sick and tired of seeing articles that announce to the world something “White people” do or do not do or understand.
So. Sick. Of. It.
And before you sharpen your knives and raise your weapons, let me explain…. Saying that “white people don’t get something” is EXACTLY THE PROBLEM. It’s not a solution to say “Here’s why you as a global group don’t get me.” It’s not a solution to say “White people never understand.” It’s not a solution to racism to group a section of the population by their skin color and announce to the world that they are never going to understand another group of the population. Even if it’s true. No… Especially when it’s true.
Because here’s the thing… just like everyone else on this planet, I was born to parents who had a pre-selected skin color. When I popped up in my mother’s womb, I’m pretty sure no one flashed a color wheel in front of me and asked me to select my skin tone, because if they had, I can pretty much guarantee that I wouldn’t have selected this strange washed out peach color that shows every single vein through the back side of my arm. I’m pretty sure I didn’t look at God and say “Make me pasty, please.” It’s just what I look like… it’s not who I am. It’s what was given to me by my parents, just like your skin tone was a gift from yours.
Know what wasn’t a birth right? Compassion. Neither was honesty or love or kindness or any one of the other millions of things that make us all individual people… not skin tones.
So when I see an article pop up with the title “Why White People Will Never Understand Ferguson,” I want to slap the stupid off someone’s face NOT because what they say isn’t potentially true, but because just like everyone else on this planet, I want to be judged by the content of my character, not the color of my skin. Can I understand what it’s like to be a black man in Ferguson? Nope. Sure can’t. Not any more than a black man in Ferguson can understand what it’s like to be a white woman in the South. It doesn’t make either of us have opinions that are less important. It doesn’t make either one of us a less valued individual… we are both so very much more than JUST a black person or JUST a white person. We are people. Complex, individual, sometimes strange and almost always unpredictable people… no matter the color of our skin. Lately, it’s become hazardous for me to have an opinion about anything with even remote racial undertones. Somehow, my opinion on anything with even the slightest tinge of color is considered null and void and honestly? That makes me angry. Because I think my opinions matter; I think my opinions should be valued just as much as anyone else. But I get scared because Dear God, what if what I say is taken the wrong way? What if the people listening don’t know me, don’t realize who I am or what I’m about? What if they think I’m racist just because I have an opinion? WHAT IF THEY THINK I’M RACIST? Because honestly, being told I’m racist is one of my biggest fears.
But here’s the thing… I still don’t want to have to qualify my opinion on Ferguson by saying “I know I’m white, but I still think the grand jury got it wrong.” I don’t want to have to apologize for my opinion, nor do I want to feel forced to separate myself from being white just to HAVE my opinion. I want to be able to say “THIS WAS WRONG” without having to also say “I’m sorry I’m white.” Because the truth is, I’m not sorry that I’m white. Because you can’t be sorry for something you didn’t do. Because I didn’t choose to be white any more than Michael Brown chose to be black. If there’s something I do, something I choose to be that bothers you, then let’s chat. But don’t make me apologize for being the color I was born. It wasn’t my choice.
And you know what? I’m more than the color of my skin. So was Michael Brown. So is the police officer who shot him.
So are ALL of us. Because if we aren’t? If we always just reduce ourselves and others to black and white? Then what’s the point of anything in this life.