June 3, 2020

United we Stand? A Letter to my fellow White People. 

If so inspired: Hey America, I Can’t Breathe.


I recently finished reading the book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  

It is a hardening, eye-opening account of what it means to have a black body in America—a country whose economy was founded on the pillaging of that very body. It was the type of book that once I finish it, I immediately flipped to the beginning to start reading it again, taking in the parts I might’ve missed.

Shortly after finishing, news about Ahmaud Arbery broke, and not too long later, news about George Floyd hit hard.

It is easy to stay quiet on the issue. Taking a look at my white flesh—the color I didn’t choose nor anyone chooses—two things come to mind:

1. How much I’ve been given without doing a damn thing.

2. I wonder if my opinion or outrage is even valid because of the color of my skin.

Why should I have any opinion on the matter?

As I type this, I even fear subconscious racism presenting itself, rooting itself in ugly ways—ways history has only ingrained in me. But, that is exactly the reason why I, we—those who’ve been gifted a strange, unchosen privilege—must speak up (and not just on social media). We must do it to become aware of our own actions that are inhibiting change. We must do it to learn what we don’t know. And we must do it so that change happens.

Privilege is not something to be ashamed of. It is also not something to be guilty about. It is something to acknowledge and take action about so that others can have it too. There is something we can do to strive toward the world we want to live in—the human world.

And, that does not include staying quiet out of fear of getting it wrong. While posting on social media is moving and informing, I shudder at the way we fall quiet again after a week, or a month…that is, until the next outrage. We must take continuous action.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates so aptly puts it: he will never understand what it is like to be a woman.

I will never understand what it is like to be a black person. Perhaps, I can liken it to imagining the Holocaust. I know about the event. I know it was one of the most terrible and painful events in history—but I will never feel the deep-seated pain roasting my own body.

There is one thing for certain: we can use empathy, and we can try damn hard to understand and take necessary action.

Here are some resources to inform, educate, and take action:

1. Anti-Racism resources for white people

2. Guidelines for what people of color want from white allies

3. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

4. Talking to strangers By Malcom Gladwell

5. Write to your local representatives and police stations, our voices matter

6. Vote, vote, vote


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