I grew up in the way most white people do from small towns. Our family lived a simple life not dirt poor, but sort of at the bottom of middle class when true middle class existed. My dad worked a blue collar job and my mom had two teaching jobs to put my sister through college.
My parents took us to church and we were taught from a very early age that we were to be kind to all people. My maternal grandmother had adopted two African America daughters and before we were ever taught about adoption was and how we came to have two aunts that didn’t look the same as any of our other aunts and uncles, we never thought a single thing was out step with all of our other white friends’ families. People were people and we loved every single one of our aunts equally. I like to say I was color blind for a long time.
While I am grateful to have grown up in an era of colorblindness not learning hate based on skin color, I think we were done a disservice. It’s not the fault of the adults around me, but I wish that I would have asked more questions as I got older. I wish I wouldn’t have just sat quietly by when I started to notice pain and hurt in the black community.
I am ashamed by my prolonged period of quiet while pretending to understand, especially since I have an incredibly open aunt who is willing to discus any topic with me “Aunt Style” (you aunties know what I am talking about…talking to nieces about the important stuff and imparting wisdom without being like a “Mom“). Asking now just seems like an empty shell of an effort. But I did. I am going to share a few thoughts.
My Aunt shared this video, I know your have probably seen it, it’s been floating around for quite a while. She shares that it isn’t just the white kids being ahead but that some don’t feel guilty about it even once they realize what is happening. That is me. I have seen how she was treated my whole life. I know what is going on. I know how hard it is for the black people in this nation to get ahead. One of her comments though was “It’s not about feeling guilty for your privilege…it’s about how you use it.”
So while I see a lot of my white friend putting up black screens across social media and “muting” themselves until June 7th in a show of support while listening, I will not sit silent. I will lift up the voice of my loved ones who I pray for daily. I have worried too many times after reading a headline of a black man dying at the hands of the police, or a black woman being killed by a white mass shooter, I worry about the names I would read once clicking though all while praying it isn’t someone I love.
I have never once been scared for my life while being pulled over. I have never been scared of a police officer. I have never once been judged by the color of my skin. I won’t stop amplifying the voices of those who have, until they feel as though justice has been done. I pray it will be in my lifetime.