I am white. And just because I may love people for who they are, including the beauty of their black, brown and golden skin and all that that is, some of which I know, and most of which I will never know, I cannot understand. Because I am white.
Just because I grew up in a predominantly black school and black church, with 3 other old white ladies aside from my family in the congregation, and just because my mother didn’t have “a black friend”, but black family, a part of my life as much as my own mother, father, sisters and grandmother, I don’t pretend to understand the suffering of what it is to go through what people of color are going through in this country. Again.
Just because I would pray when I went to sleep that my skin would be a glowing chocolate brown in the morning, and when I played dolls with my friend Kelie I would wear a bath towel on my head, pretending to be a black girl pretending to be a white girl, or would rub vaseline into my white girl’s hair, it doesn’t magically carry me any closer to what it is to walk through this world as someone who is not white. I cannot. Because I am white.
As a child, when I witnessed with my own eyes and ears the leaden drag of dirty looks and fearful glances of white people in the presence of black people and the sick words of subcutaneous hate dressed up in “there is nobody black in the room at the moment-who is it going to hurt?,” I would go silent. Not because I didn’t want to cause a fuss, but because it made me sick. It left me mute. I couldn’t make sense of the history of white people; I couldn’t make sense of how white people knew that history and continued it, moved it forward, kept it going.
Forever after, I have spoken up in the face of prejudice that was evident, every single time. Always. As uncomfortable as it may have made people, as impolite in the company present as it may have been. I could have given a fat rat’s ass. Because you can talk about how important it is take things in their own good time, how important it is to talk about racism in the “right” way, how important it is to respect someone else’s space, someone else’s home that you may have been invited to, and I say: it has always been too late for that. The job of a human is to stand up for another human. That is what the white world has got to reckon with. We are all human. The only reason to keep someone separate is because I don’t think they are equal. They are not as deserving as I, they are not as special as I, they are not as white as I am.
There are so many other times when I wasn’t aware, when I had no idea, when I myself was the cause of pain, when I could have, should have spoken up, should have known, and did not.
This is not my moment to suffer or know what the right words are or pretend that everything will be all right and that we are going to walk off into a sunset, everybody holding hands and singing kumbaya.
Now is my moment to continue to stand up for, defend, protect, and stand back. The lead will be taken by those who have suffered enough from being told what to do and educated about what is best for them and encouraged to be patient. If I am sad beyond words and uncomfortable in my skin, so be it. I will be at the ready, with all the love I have ever known and all the hope I have always believed in.