Recently it seems that a lot of racially provoked things are coming to light in the media: Baltimore, Rachael Dolezal, The Charleston shooting, and many others that don’t necessarily reach my area. I usually try to stay away from topics like this. I usually avoid conversations like this in public because I don’t want to start an argument. I also don’t want people to think any different of me because of my views. However, I recently watched a video from Meghan Tonjes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubLYbG58ESs and it made me realize that by not stating my opinion and being quiet, I may be enabling the problem. Allow me express my opinion on the matter.
You shouldn’t feel bad for being white; just like I shouldn’t feel bad for being black. Why can’t we as civilized adults in the year 2015 have a civilized and educated discussion about the FACT that racism still exists? The civil rights movement was 50ish years ago. Just because desegregation laws were passed doesn’t mean the problem went away. Why is it that whenever someone brings up racism, people get offended and defensive? Even if no one is calling them racist, people feel uncomfortable when the word or subject is brought up. It is my opinion and observation that those reared in a “non racist” home believe that racism is over. Because they have not personally witnessed or been a part of a racist act, they deny the FACT that it exists all together and this is where things get complicated.
When racism is brought up, it is not an attempt to make someone feel bad (at least when I do it). It is brought up because it is a subject that needs to be addressed. We as a society need to discuss what happens and make the proper changes so that we can reach the point where it “doesn’t exist”. I put that in quotations because, as sad as it is, I truly believe that racism will always exist to some degree. Just because we ignore a problem doesn’t mean it goes away. When a dog chews up your shoe, you don’t just let him chew your shoes. You take the steps to stop him from chewing your shoes. You discipline him and train him so that you get the desired results. The only way we will solve this problem is to address it and make changes together.
Let me tell you something. I didn’t grow up poor, plain and simple. Everything I needed was provided. I have two loving parents that were married for 7 years before I was born, and we’ve lived in a nice house as long as I can remember. I grew up in a relatively quiet neighborhood. I didn’t grow up around gangs and violence. I heard about it in music and saw it on tv, but that was never a real part of my life. I went to public school until 5th grade. After that, I went to private school. I excelled in school. I have always been in the top 10% of my class. Unless I’m being funny, I wear my pants at my waist. When in public, I speak like I have an education. I have never been involved in a crime, and I have never been arrested. Whenever I interact with other black people who were not as fortunate as me, I empathize with them. That is all I can do. To them I am white. I’m not saying this brag, but to inform.
But why is it that being educated and privileged is equated with being white? Why do we say things like you’re a white black guy? Can’t black people be privileged and educated. Can’t black people have married parents with enough money to support them? This is another subject and way of thinking that needs to be addressed.
I was also taught that I shouldn’t feel bad for what other people don’t have. That’s not my fault. I didn’t take anything from them. I have not personally harmed them in any way. In that same way, privileged white people shouldn’t feel bad for being privileged and white. However, being black, I still have to deal with racial stereotypes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU4A-jb2_5g. I still have to live with the fact that people will fear and judge me based solely on the color of my skin. There are several stereotypical experiences that people assume I have been apart of, but I haven’t. I will gladly inform someone of my story if they ask about it.
The bottom line is: Talking about a topic does not make you the aggressor or the victim. It merely opens a line of communication so that one can understand the other. If there is to be any change, we must first acknowledge the problem.
Let’s talk about this so that we can fix it.