I’ve been avoiding this conversation. That doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring it, though.
I’ve been reading the headlines, the news stories, the hashtags, the posts on my Facebook news feed.
I’ve been trying to understand the Black Lives Matter movement. The seemingly senseless killings. The meaning of White Privilege.
I’ve been trying to understand if I have a place in these conversations. And I’ve been trying to find my voice.
I’ve read Facebook posts from people I’ve known for decades. People that I grew up with, went to school with, played with, got drunk with, gossiped with. Black people, white people, Mexican people, Asian people. People. People I call my friends. People, who I’m now learning, are not just like me.
I feel ignorant because, until recently, I’d never even heard of white privilege. And that’s a hard pill to swallow. I can’t be the only one. I want to understand the hurt and the struggle. I want to make sense of what the hell is happening – on a goddamn daily basis right now.
I’m here. I’m listening. And I am trying. I want to help make this better.
I read your Facebook posts like a student. Absorbing everything you share. Trying to relate to your experiences.
Know that you are making a difference. You are opening our eyes.
So many times I’ve wanted to comment on your posts and ask for help. Help me understand what you’re saying. What do you mean? But I’m afraid. Is Facebook really the place to have this conversation? It’s uncomfortable. You’re calling me out in a public forum on something I didn’t even know existed.
Come to find out, I wasn’t aware of white privilege, because I’ve grown up accepting it.
That is so fucking heartbreaking.
I’ve never had to worry about looking suspicious in a hoody while walking down the street. I can’t think of a time when a store clerk has kept an eye on me while I shop. I’m not afraid to drive down the road when my car’s taillight is out, for fuck’s sake!
But you are. I recognize that now. I have no words for how awful that must feel. And I know that’s not right.
I think we can all agree that this is an uncomfortable conversation. I can’t be the only one who’s been avoiding it. And I know I’m not the only one who still feels like they don’t understand.
But we are so far past the point where comfort should even be a consideration. It’s uncomfortable because there is a problem. There is a problem that we’ve all been avoiding and we need to start talking about it.
And if you don’t think there’s a problem, watch the video of Alton Sterling being shot five times while he’s pinned down. Watch the video of Philando Castile – the one whose girlfriend live-streamed on Facebook while he died in the driver’s seat next to her, still buckled in to the car.
Then take a deep breath, recognize that what you just watched is reality, and demand change.
“You can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country, and still be troubled by cases of police overreach. Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive. You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to high standards.” Jon Stewart