This is hard. I want to preface this by saying that I could not possibly understand the pain people of color are feeling right now, but I do stand with you. Because I am not black, there is no way for me to know what it is like to be shamed solely based on the color of my skin. I have white privilege and it took far too long for me to realize it. For this, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I did not realize I was apart of the problem. From now on, I will only be apart of the solution and I will use my voice to stand with the oppressed and give them the space they need to bring justice to their community.
It’s taken me a minute to gain the courage to write this post. I’ve typed so many words and erased them all in fear that I would offend someone due to lack of knowledge. I will be the first to admit that I was blinded by my privilege. I’m 75% white and 25% Korean and because my skin is light, I have never been placed into a position where I do not belong. I have never been considered dangerous. I have never needed to fear law enforcement. For so long, I have lived in the dark because I have always been in favor of the system.
Over the past week, I have spent a great amount of time journaling, researching, and collecting my thoughts. I know that my ignorance has been hurting black lives. A few years ago, when I first heard of the movement #BlackLivesMatter, I was one of those people who would instantly say “All lives matter.” And yes… they do, but the world we live in has proven ten times over that white lives are the priority. This is NOT OKAY. This is why #BlackLivesMatter is trending. This is why it needs to be talked about. Black lives are not and have never been matched with the same honor as white lives.
I have always told myself that I see no color. I love people of many different skin colors and I have never once cared for someone less because of it, but I will admit that I was wrong in ignoring the color of their skin. Ignoring color is not helping. It’s time to see the color, become aware of the problems surrounding it, and do something to help bring equality. Carlos A. Rodriguez said, ““I see no color” is not the goal. “I see your color and I honor you. I value your input. I will be educated about your lived experiences. I will work against the racism that harms you. You are beautiful. Tell me how to do better.” … That’s the goal.” That is my goal. If it isn’t already yours, it should be.
My freshman year of college, my English professor selected white privilege to be our research and writing topic. At first, I was annoyed that I had to spend 16 weeks reading about this. I originally thought the phrase “white privilege” was implying that all white people were racist. I knew that this was not true for myself. I had never, on purpose, done something that was racist. I didn’t think I needed to spend this much time focusing on my privilege because I truly thought that I was not the problem. Looking back, I’m so grateful for this professor and all of the knowledge I took with me once that class had ended.
In this class we read many articles, books, and essays that referenced white privilege. One that stuck out to me profoundly was titled “What riding my bike has taught me about white privilege” by Jeremy Dowsett. I will link it at the end of this post for those that are interested. Please take the time and give it a read. It’s short and is so helpful in understanding what white privilege is without being pushy or abrasive. Dowsett uses an analogy of riding his bike on a road built for cars in comparison to being black in a world that favors white people. It sounds funny at first, but I promise it is worth the read.
The most helpful piece I took away from this article was the line, “The system is skewed in ways that you maybe haven’t realized or had to think about precisely because it’s skewed in your favor.” That hit me hard. It is so true. I never noticed the flaws because I wasn’t being targeted. I know and love so many people that are not white, and for them, I will fight the system and help bring justice for the people of color.
Another note I want to mention from Dowsett’s piece is when he discusses what privilege isn’t. By saying to someone that they have privilege, it isn’t saying that they are evil, you hate them, or that they are racist. What it is doing is simply acknowledging the fact that the system is skewed in your favor. If you have never heard of systemic racism, please do your research. I will link a video I found on Instagram that takes the narrative back in time in a a simple and informative manner.
Up until recently, I have always been one that has put my differences with my loved ones aside so that we could come together. I would “agree to disagree” so that our relationship didn’t suffer because of our difference in opinions. But if you don’t believe there is an error in our system, I cannot agree to disagree. Our system is flawed. It has been for years. I was born into this system, and likely, you were too. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept this as our normal and continue to allow of friends of color to be treated less than. I have talked with many loved ones in my life who do not believe that black people are treated less than. I have had tough conversations with those who think the system is equal and that people of color receive the same opportunities and punishment. My mom and I have been talking about this for a bit and she said something to me that truly resonated with my heart; “We have a moral obligation to do something here. This is about more than just cops killing black folks. This is about systemic institutional racism that is every bit intentional. Our government and capitalist society depends on the oppression of black folks in order to thrive. We have to work towards dismantling systems of oppression, and it’s going to be hard. This isn’t just about arresting bad cops but about overhauling our whole law enforcement system. It’s about retraining the way Americans view race and having difficult discussions. And it’s about exposing those who benefit from their oppression.”
If you are being silent on your social media, at home, or with your friends, you are doing all of your black friends an injustice. This isn’t meant to sound pushy or rude, but the black community needs our help. Elie Wiesel once said, “I swore to never be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” If you are unaware of the issues in our society, I will link resources down below so you are able to educate yourself on these problems.
Along with educating yourself, there are many ways you can help. Some of these include, but are not limited to, donating to resources that specialize in racial equality, being active on your social media by using your platform to raise awareness, signing petitions, voting for politicians who will implement change, and informing your children of these problems so the lack of knowledge doesn’t continue into their generation. I refuse to raise my son to become unknowingly part of the problem. I want him to look back at me, as his mom, and know that I stood up for what is right and just. I want to be an advocate for those who have been silenced and a beacon of light for those surrounded by darkness. I will stand up for the fallen and help Americans retrain the way they view race. I will fight for a law enforcement system that values all lives in the black community. I will use my privilege to honor people of color and not oppress them further. This is why I’m using my voice and why you should, too.
Lastly, I want to mention that I have been and will continue to pray over the black community, for our society, and for the families that have lost loved ones due to this injustice. My heart and voice is with you.
Here are some resources that I have found to be helpful and informative: