Check Your White Privilege

Check Your White Privilege

My heart is hurting. My heart is heavy and I am angry.

Two months ago today, the most handsome man in the world got on one knee on what was the most romantic day of my life – and possibly the most romantic day in all of history ever – and asked me to marry him. And in 5 months and a few days, we are going to promise to love each other forever. I am confident this is the man I was meant to be with. He has taught me so much. He has taught me how to love myself better, how to love people better, and has widened my horizons on social justice issues that I didn’t even realize were issues.

If we’re being honest, I knew some people were racist (I grew up in rural Appalachia, for goodness’ sake.) But I didn’t think it extended beyond the ignorant rednecks. I remember this one day Pai and I were on a walk though this small downtown area and we were holding hands. We had just started going out, but weren’t officially dating yet and I could feel the eyes glued to us as middle aged and older white people drove past us, safe inside their 30,000 cars, on their way home to their family where they knew their children would be home from ball practices safe and sound because a police officer would see their white skin walking home and know they weren’t up to anything suspicious.

But how many mothers, how many wives have received a call saying their husband, their child was shot by a police officer? “It looked like they were reaching for a gun. He was walking in the dark with a hood on. It was suspicious activity.”

Just the other day, Pai was sitting in his car in a neighborhood of our friends, waiting to pick me up from a friend’s house. He was approached by an older white man and questioned as to why he was just sitting in his car. If Pai was a white man waiting for his fiance to come out of a friend’s house, he would have never been approached. It’s not “neighborhood safety,” it’s racism.

In a few years, Pai and I will decide we want to start a family. And for nine months, our beautiful babies will be safe inside my womb. And when they are born, we get the opportunity and responsibility to teach them how to live, how to love, and how to behave. And it will be different from how I was taught to behave, or my brothers were taught. We will have to find the words to explain to our beautiful children that a police man will automatically  be suspicious of our son because he doesn’t have white skin. And racism is still very much a real thing in this country. And people – beautiful people with hopes, dreams, and souls – are shot during routine traffic stops or arrests because they were “reaching for a gun” or they were running away. And they weren’t just shot in the knee to detain, they were shot multiple times because they were black.

My fellow White People, White Christians: Check your White Privilege.

Congratulations, you shared a Facebook status saying  “Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter.” Of course all lives matter. We don’t need to stress that right now, because not all lives are hurting. All lives SHOULD be hurting because our brothers and sisters are hurting. What we need to stress right now is that black lives matter. This movement isn’t just a hashtag to be shared, it is a response to a part of our nation who is hurting.

And those of us who are white do have privilege. People don’t raise their eyebrows when we move into a new neighborhood. People don’t get nervous when we walk into a room. People don’t assume we are there to cause trouble just because we are in a hoodie.

When I first started dating Pai, someone (or multiple people, rather) warned me it was going to be difficult raising a biracial child in this world. They are right. But it won’t be because my child has darker skin. It will be because white people who believe racism is dead, will go on to allow racism to exist.

So what are you going to DO about it?

Don’t just share a Facebook status. Don’t just write a response to this. Don’t dismiss the hurt in our country. Don’t silence the voices of those who need to speak out and share their story. Don’t make excuses for the police officers who will not be charged with murder (because they are white. They get the privilege to go home at night to their families. Meanwhile, the black man who is arrested doesn’t get the privilege of a fair trial because instead, his body is lying in a morgue.) Don’t blame the black men for their own death. There is still a divide in his country. Racism is very much alive. And if you think it is not, talk to someone who isn’t white.

So what are you going to DO?

Pai, the ever wise man he is, says the best way to end racism is to befriend someone different from us. He asked me a hard question: How many of my friends are black? Not counting his family, not counting my coworker who is biracial, I don’t have many friends who are black. I can count my black friends on one hand, and that is pathetic.

How about you? How many of your friends are black?

We don’t befriend just to befriend. We befriend to learn. Befriend, and ask questions. Listen to their story. Learn from them. Love on them, and allow them to open your eyes and widen your horizon. Then you will see. You will see beyond a stereotype, and you will learn how to understand. You will learn how to empathize, and you will learn how to hurt with them.

White people, we need to step it up. We rarely suffer the consequences for our free speech. So grab a hand of someone different than you, support them, and give them a voice.

Because black lives DO matter, and they need to know that we believe in them.

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail to someone