PSA for my fellow, privileged White people (and yes, you are privileged, whether you want to believe it or not):
I’m writing this in light of what happened the very next day after Anton Sterling was shot, when Philando Castile was pulled over for a broken tail light and shot four times for the crime of reaching for his wallet and honestly informing the officer that he had a gun and a permit to carry one. BTW, Mr. Castile has a public record of multiple traffic stops and driving with a revoked license was his most serious offense. He had no felonies on his record. Read that again: PHILANDO CASTILE HAD NO FELONIES ON HIS RECORD. Therefore, a reasonable person might think, “Gee, maybe he’s just a crappy driver and he’s giving me the license I just asked him for” and not “OMG He’s going to shoot me!”
The Dallas shooting is not justice, but when white people insist that #BlackLivesMatter is stupid and that all lives matter, you’re insisting on the status quo, where Black lives are *not* as important as white lives. Trying to raise the status of one race of people to equality doesn’t require other people to give anything up or lose anything. We learned that with giving women the vote. We learned that with “allowing” Black people to vote. We learned that by “letting” Black people sit wherever they want in restaurants and on public transportation. We learned that by “allowing” interracial marriage. We learned that with gay marriage. Do you remember these things?
Acknowledging the inherent racism built into our society with a pithy hashtag doesn’t mean that everybody else (including the police) aren’t important. It’s an acknowledgement that things are NOT fair, that they are NOT just, and they are NOT equitable.
I admit that I am a privileged white person who doesn’t worry about traffic stops, or about salespeople following me in stores to make sure I’m not stealing, or about being stopped on the street and asked for my ID. Unless these things have happened to you on a regular basis over the course of your life – as they happen to Black people, and Black men in particular – then you have no right to open your mouth.
I witnessed a FB conversation between a group of Black friends this week, and they are terrified. They were discussing where on earth might be a safe place for them to go. One person suggested Canada, but another said they’d just moved from Toronto and it wasn’t any better there. One of the last comments was “we are black, there is nowhere to go.”
How would you feel if there was nowhere to go?
Maybe it should be #BlackLivesMatterToo instead of just #BlackLivesMatter – because that’s what it really means, and I’m sure that whoever thought it up thought it was self-explanatory.
Admitting you have white privilege doesn’t hurt. The sun still comes up in the morning and the moon still orbits the earth. The hard part is that once you admit it, you have to do something about it.
That’s the part that hurts.
We like our white privilege.
We’d rather see people die than give it up.