I am white. I was raised in a very white, very comfortable, privileged world. I knew no people of color until I went to my elite private school – and even there, there were a limited few of my classmates who weren’t raised in the same white world as I.
My mother is from the South. My father’s mother told me not to sit “next to the darkies” on the bus in New York City.
At some point in my life I began to see the world outside of my insulated one, realizing that it is very bigoted and hateful. I became aware that I didn’t want to be part of the problem.
With all that is happening in our country with racism and cruelty and violence and hatred, I understand that I am still a part of the problem.
But my heart is in the right place.
I want to learn more, understand more, change my role in perpetuating this plague.
I don’t want to be shamed. Shaming others does not solve the problem(s).
I hesitate to write because while I don’t know much about being a person of color, I know enough to be aware that my words may offend someone.
My heart is in the right place.
So I am going to take a chance here and address something that I’m seeing that feels, to me, pretty fucking racist.
If I offend, piss off, or hurt someone with my words, if whatever I say reeks of entitlement, I apologize. I am a white gal trying to understand.
My heart is in the right place.
If I don’t bring this up, if I don’t try to understand, then I continue to be a part of the problem, so I will risk sounding like an idiot so that maybe next time, I don’t.
What is currently bothering me at the moment feels like an undercurrent of superiority, judgment, and white shaming…
by white people.
I want to learn. I want to be educated. I want to be a part of the solution.
I don’t want to be shamed.
I especially don’t want to be shamed by white folks doing something that I see as “reverse racism.”
Maybe I just coined a new term, but I doubt it.
There are people out there, white ones, being quite vocal on the issues of race; folks who, because they have a connection with a BIPoC, act superior, more “woke.”
Dumbest fucking word in today’s lexicon.
Maybe some are more evolved, knowledgable and compassionate, but I am also seeing, feeling, hearing words and actions of superiority that bleed over into what I perceive as cultural appropriation.
If you are white, you are white. Period. And no matter where your heart is, you are not a person of color. No matter who your neighbors are, your partner is, your child’s best friend is, it doesn’t change your skin color.
Preaching, speaking out, damning, criticizing, judging…all of it…it often seems to communicate the misguided and wrong message of “I was white, but now I’m not anymore.”
Seems pretty damn racist.
We must speak out. We must act. We must do everything in our power to bring awareness to and then eradicate this hateful treatment of others.
Is there a way to do this without acting better than, more evolved? Without taking on another’s culture as our own? Without disdain for that white person who married another white person and maybe even gave birth to white kids; a person who fell in love with another’s soul, not their skin color?
Currently in my family – my children, their partners, their roommates – two white boys, a blond-haired blue-eyed Mormon gal, an African-American girl, and three Mexicans, one of whom is a DACA kid.
Does this make me “not white”?
Certainly not – it actually makes me feel even more ignorant in understanding the ways in which these members of my family have experienced life.
I am thankful that my family is more diverse than the entire county in which I was raised. I am proud of my children for not letting race differences determine who they love.
The reality is, I love my family – each and every one of them.
But, I am not more evolved, less ignorant, or simply better than because we have a wide-ish range of skin color under my roof. And I am fully aware that I am not black, I am not an undocumented worker from south of the border, I am not a foster kid desperate to connect with his Mexican heritage.
Can you imagine if I tried to “get my Mexican on,” like my son does? I’d be ridiculous. Learning to make my own tamales does not change my upbringing. And having a brown child does not make me brown.
It makes me a white mother who really needs to educate herself.
I am rambling here. I am trying to speak in generalizations (somewhat) so as not to point fingers.
Not to shame.
But I see a level of self-righteousness that offends me because I feel that the idolization of one culture over another, even if it’s a historically oppressed culture, is the SAME FUCKING PROBLEM.
Especially when it has a hint (or more) of cultural appropriation because it’s coming from the WASP’s among us.
(WASP – White Anglo Saxon Protestant.)
It feels like a lack of honest humility and oozes self-importance.
Teach me. I want to learn.
Show me how to help.
Explain to me what I am doing to perpetuate the problem.
Share with me your experiences. I want to hear.
I want to see change.
In the era of systemic racism that has been going on in our country for generations, I am a relative newcomer to understanding the depth and danger of our system.
I have a long way to go.
But, my heart is in the right place.