I’ve taken entirely too long to wondering if any good would come from a post like this. Particularly because I’m a white guy. In the end, I’d be remiss if I didn’t use this tiny platform I’ve built to not only share my hobbies, but to promote noble causes I believe in, like racial equality.
First things first, I’m going to get something in this post wrong, I can feel it. My life experiences have likely given me an incorrect perception of many things in this world. I encourage anyone to reach out and help me learn. Contrariwise, also let me know if this is nothing more than “sound and fury, signifying nothing” and what I can do to help improve matters.
Second things second, a quick look at my bona fides. Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m a 30-something year old white guy that was born and raised in the South. I’ve lived in multiple trailer parks growing up. I’ve served in the Army for 9 years, deployed to Iraq twice and Haiti once. Take from that as you wish.
In my younger years, I never thought i need to account for my actions (or inactions) towards racial disparity because I wasn’t against other races nor was I ever proud of being born white. I had adopted a pacifist mindset with notions of “let our fates fall where they may” and only judge a person by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. I realize, now more than ever, that isn’t enough.
I know white privilege exists, and I know I’ve had to have benefited from it several times in my life. I’ve been largely oblivious to it for years because it was something I could not quantify; I don’t know when I benefited from being white and when it didn’t matter. I finally realized that’s part of the point:
You’ll never be told “Hey, you got this, at least in part, because you’re white.”
To be fair, I’m not a smart man. That simple fact took too long to really set in.
So when the #BLM protests began, sidewalks near home became billboards for progress. Two messages in particular challenged me to critically think about my part in this historical time. I snapped a pic and uploaded it to Instagram. For those interested, it’s the 2nd image. Although the first image is also good advice, as well.
For the visually challenged:
Having to educate yourself about RACISM is a sign of your PRIVILEGE
Start asking questions about your own relationship with what it means to be white, with unearned privilege.
Don’t feel bad about it, use it to HELP.
I am fortunate enough to have surrounded myself with friends and associates who share this sentiment. Some family members, however, fail to share my perception of things, citing the mantra “All Lives Matter”, which I feel misses the point and is a weak, self-evident cop-out. It adds nothing valuable to the discourse. There is also their personal stories of being slighted by a single person of color. If groups of people decide to group other people up in such categories, then pick out the bad examples to represent the whole, we are ALL going to have a bad time.
No one I’ve come across is saying ONLY Black Lives Matter. I’m sure there are fringe personalities out there that say otherwise, but they are not a part of the voice I’ve heard. It’s to get everyone to understand that Black Lives have value matching that of any other life. It’s a call to for equal footing, which is not only fair, but a moral imperative if we want to grow as a species.
From my view, there’s is no overnight solution to this problem. However, knowledge dissolves hate. There are some who can learn and respect other perspectives in order to stop their flow of hatred, then there are those who are close-minded and unwilling to grow. Generations forward must learn to be vigilant and quickly determine which is which and invest their energy towards the more progressive of the two.