I sit here and I listen.
I listen to the news and I’m worried. Our country feels like it’s poised on some precipice; one that was supposed to have crumbled with Brown v. Board, and with the work of visionaries like Martin Luther King. But it never did go away, though the history books, (penned by white hands,) claim that it has.
I watch and I read and I listen…and I listen. And I can feel such profound and compounded anger and frustration; it feels like it has reached levels of pure desperation. These sentiments are so long-held that they span generations. They have only seethed and festered with time. Like an angry, swollen wound that no one is able to lance.
I listen and I read and I learn, and yet I know that I can never truly understand this monster. Because I implicitly wear it’s face, it’s skin.
I am white, and I am privileged. I am a good, hard working person, but my skin is glaringly, unforgivably, white.
It seems like every week I hear of another incident of police brutality, and like all of the other reports in the news lately it reeks of racism and classism. I know that I have had nothing to do with this violence, not directly. I too stand here, appalled and devastated. But I find myself at a loss, because I don’t know how to fit into this tableau.
My skin is white, and while I categorically do not believe that this makes me superior, I’ve also inadvertently, oftentimes unwittingly, benefitted from this imbalance, all my life. In all of the small ways that add up to something so huge that it confounds comprehension.
When I walk down a city street, women don’t grasp their purses more tightly as they pass me. If I go into a store, the salespeople don’t watch me more closely, waiting for me to steal something. My parents could afford a house in a good school district, and I never had to fight to receive a decent education.
I sit here and I write, because I don’t feel as if I can speak in this forum. There is no place for me at the table for this discussion. If black Americans are unwitting victims, white Americans like me are involuntary accomplices. None of us want these mantels that we wear.