A White Girl's Thoughts on Current Events and White Privilege

My heart is broken. I am angered. I am ashamed. I am horrified. And I am saddened. Part of me wants to stay in my na├»ve little Covid-19 bubble. After all our state is just starting to open up and really hasn't opened much besides hair salons and pet groomers, but the news is there. It is on our local news. It is in my Facebook feed. It is all around us. And it has been, but we have been ignoring it for too long. As a white person I experience privilege. I do not have to think about my race every day. I do not have to worry when I go out or worry when my husband goes for a jog in our neighborhood. I do not have to worry not because we aren't doing anything wrong but because of our skin color. We are white. We are blessed to be able to live in a beautiful neighborhood. We are blessed to live a beautiful house and have so many other blessings, but the biggest blessing we really don't think about because it shouldn't be a blessing. 

In my past life--before I was married, I was a high school math teacher. At several of the schools I worked I advised diversity groups as well as gay-straight alliances. Throughout all of this I got trained in diversity. Yet I know I still have prejudices. We all do. I try not to let these prejudices creep into my decisions and my life, but I will admit they do. I work hard to look beyond them. I work hard not to judge others. After all I am a Christian and the Bible tells us not to judge one another. It tells us repeatedly not to judge one another yet people are always judging including Christians. Let's start by talking about Amy Cooper.

I am sure you have seen all about Amy Cooper. She is the white woman who was "walking" her dog without a leash in Central Park. She came upon Christian Cooper, a black birdwatcher. He asked her to leash her dog. Now the rules of Central Park are that the dog has to be on a leash so he is not asking anything unreasonable. I know I have walked with a friend who is afraid of dogs and when someone was walking the dog without a leash she always asked the owner to leash the dog and the owner always just did. Amy Cooper however decided to use her white privilege and dialed 911 to report and African American threatening her dog and her. Talk about white privilege. By the time the police arrived both Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper had left the park. Thankfully Christian Cooper was not abused by the police. But how many people are like Amy Cooper? A black man asks her to do something she doesn't want to do. He makes a comment about doing something she won't like (he means recording the incident) and she calls the police because she knows they will believe a white woman over a black man out in the middle of a somewhat secluded part of the park. This people is white privilege!

Another example of white privilege in the news recently is the armed white men who moved their rally into the Michigan State Capitol. Can you imagine if these men had been black? What would the response have been? Imagine a militia group of black man half masked and with large guns storming a state capitol. I imagine they would have been met with state police with their guns drawn, but not the white militia. And of course some of our politicians call them "good people". And they are protesting that the governor is trying to keep their state safe from Covid-19. Now living in one of the top five hardest hit states I can say personally I am glad our governor has done what he has done for the safety of all. I know people who have had Covid-19 and I know people who have died from it. It is scary and the 100,000+ American deaths during the shutdown of our country tell us this is nothing to play with. 

More examples of white privilege are the signs of the protestors about wearing a mask and reopening the states. Now the science shows us that masks can help save lives. Some of the signs referenced Moses and the Jewish slaves in Egypt (many incorrectly). Others reference the Nazis. We are not slaves and are not being treated like slaves. No white person is a slave because of this disease. Don't get me wrong there are some white people being abused and of course there is the whole sex slave trade thing but I'm not talking about those people here. These signs are disgraceful and I am sickened that I am the same race as the people holding them and having made them. 

Now let's talk about the worst white privilege that has been in the news lately. We will start with the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. Ahmaud Arbery was a black man out for a run. He ran on a construction site and was shot three times by a father and son in Georgia for this. When they called 911 they said he was caught on video many times running there. Ok, so he may have trespassed but they decided killing him--shooting him THREE times--was what he deserved for trespassing. At first the father and son were not going to be charged for his murder, but protests and videos have changed that. 

My final example of white privilege in the news (at least for today) is the story about the murder of George Floyd. Now I am going to start this part by saying I have so much respect for the police, but like any group of people there can be some that do not do the right thing. The police received a call that a black man had paid with a counterfeit $20 bill. Apparently George Floyd resisted arrest according to the police, probably because he hadn't done anything wrong and didn't realize they were trying to arrest him. While handcuffed the police had George on the ground and a police officer had his knee on George's neck. George asked for him to move it because he was having trouble breathing. Unfortunately George Floyd died because of the police officer's actions. The four police officers have been fired but have not been charged with murder. What is wrong with this picture? Had it been anyone besides police officers they would be charged with murder by now. Oh, and it wasn't a phony $20 bill either. Plus at least one of the officers had past complaints. It breaks my heart that Amy Klobuchar did not charge the police officer in past complaints. She was one of my top choices for president before she dropped out of the race. Again white privilege. Officer Derek Chauvin should have been charged and fired before this, but he certainly should be tried for the murder of George Floyd. 

Now as I read the news over the past few months I wonder what as a white ally can I do. How as a white person can I use my privilege to change the situation in our country. I do not want black people to fear for their lives. I do not want parents of black children to teach them to ask people to record the happenings when they are confronted by white people. I do not want people treated differently because of their skin color. There are petitions to sign and state legislatures to contact but is this enough? I feel we need to educate ourselves, our children and our neighbors about the issues and about have everyone read books with black characters--heroes and heroines. We need to learn about some of the amazing black people and how they have influenced our world. We have to stop looking at differences as a bad thing. It is what makes our world so amazing! I love learning about other cultures as anyone who has followed Crafty Moms Share knows. Over the next few months I plan to share books with black heroes and heroines as well as biographies of black people. I will start with a round-up of books I have already shared and work from there. I want a world where skin color is not judged as a flaw in anyone. I hope you will join me on this journey of exploring and educating ourselves and using our white privilege for change and not for benefitting ourselves. Please read the post about race that I wrote many years ago. I think it is time for white people to start talking about race. We need to realize that racism is still very present in our daily lives. We need to realize we are what needs to change. We have to admit that we have white privilege and we need to equal the playing field with the other races around us. This will mean giving up some of the privilege we have but in the end it will be worth it. Will you join me? (And if you are not white I hope you will come read my posts about influential black people and books that will give us black  role models and more.)