Could You Please Stop Calling Me A Racist?
Let’s just start this by saying I’m white. A white woman who truly doesn’t have a feeling of hatred in her body, except towards an ex who deserves it on every level. What a scumbag! I might vent about that another time however, I shall remain focused. Recent events have caused me to become “woke” as the kids say to the racial divide in our nation. Not just in America, but all over the world. I truly never saw color as an issue in my life. It’s not like I wasn’t aware of racism, but it never directly affected my life. My black friends never really discussed any racial issues they had, so it just was an unspoken understanding that they had a different life experience that I did. Every so often there would be a “Black Lives Matter” protest over the years, and this would start a conversation that ended up the pretty much same way for me. I was the one being called the racist. Why do I hear that if I don’t talk about racism I’m feeding into it? What if it’s hard for me to speak about racism because I get called a racist no matter what I say, so I end up saying nothing. How can you actually judge me by what I think or feel? Oh wait . . . This sounds very familiar.
A stereotype is “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” Stereotypes exist because of different races, ethic backgrounds, etc. So, if I were to say all black people are excellent at basketball, that’s a stereotype. White people can’t dance is a stereotype. Jewish people are cheap. Asians are good at math. Latina women are all hot-tempered. All blanketed statements based on a group of people fall under racial stereotypes. Following that logic, wouldn’t everyone be a little racist? We just shouldn’t go around doing hate crimes. (Paging Avenue Q fans?) You can’t tell me I’m racist because I made a comment about how it breaks my heart to see a police officer getting killed during a protest. You can’t say I’m a racist because my opinion of a given racial situation is different than yours. You can’t tell me that I’m a racist because I don’t speak up a racial issues. Maybe I stopped because I’m simply tired of being called a racist.
My first experience with being accused of racism happened when I was nineteen. I was working as a cashier at my local Drug Fair. Wasn’t my first experience in retail, and possibly won’t be my last. Over the years, I had learned that the protocol for an unsigned credit card was to ask the person for a driver’s license to confirm that the card did, in fact, belong to him or her. Well, on this particular day my standard approach was in question. I simply asked the woman on line for her driver’s license since her card wasn’t signed. She replied “Oh, is this because I’m black?” I said nothing. I felt sick to my stomach afterwards. I couldn’t comprehend how my simple question that I had asked numerous times before became an attack on my belief system. In tears, I asked my manager if I could go home, and he allowed it, although he was reluctant to do so. The takeaway I got from my manager, at the time, was this was a normal occurrence and I would have to get “thicker skin” since I would have to deal with this type of thing more often. I had this simplistic and idealistic approach to life. I always treated people with the same respect as any other human being on this planet. Didn’t matter what color of skin. What did I know? I had so much more to learn.
Let’s just review the actual definition of a racist. It is “A person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.” Do I feel superior to another race of people? Simply put, no. I put my pants on the same way you all probably do, and sometimes I just don’t bother putting on pants at all. With that being said, I’m not going to ignore the fact that black people don’t feel slighted at all. I understand that they have not been given the same opportunities as white people. They are shoved into lower-income housing areas because they are not even close to achieving the same income level as a white man. The education in these lower-income areas is subpar, at best, and these schools just don’t have the funds to provide for all the students. All this because they don’t fall within a certain property line? If that property line had fallen just slightly to the left, and landed in a predominantly white neighborhood, then it could be possible for this school to get the funding from the property taxes. Approximately 90% of the wealth in our county is run by white people. ( Unfortunately, this white woman isn’t part of that estimate. Struggling with student loans forever!) White people control the wealth, which therefore leads to people of color not receiving as many opportunities. In fact, numerous black people have been denied employment just because their name sounds “too black.” On the flip side, there are black people who could pass for white and are automatically moved up the corporate ladder simply because they aren’t the stereotypical dark-skinned black person. On top of that, black people face discrimination from the police. Arrested for crimes they didn’t commit due to a mistaken identity, falsely apprehended due to just “looking sketchy” or even wearing a hoodie that could have been worn by the actual perpetrator. Most of these arrests aren’t arrests by the legal definition. Were Miranda Rights read? Did the police officer explain the charges? Why result to a violent apprehension of a criminal when this person was only guilty of sleeping in a car? I only have so much space allotted for the this blog, but the list goes on and on.
Learning all this, I am now a reformed “All Lives Matter” proponent that preaches “Black Lives Matter.” You ask me about my turnaround? I will briefly say that I realized that making a statement of all lives mattering is an ideology that doesn’t exist. In order for it to exist, we have have to live in an utopia, and all human beings would be equal. We do not have this utopia now, nor will we ever. You can’t say all lives matter until you see that in order for that to happen black lives have to matter. It’s not about having one race more superior than the other. Although, some white people will say otherwise. They will say that black people are trying to take opportunities away from them. Hold up. It’s all about equality and R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as Aretha once said.
Racism is not the easiest topic to discuss as a white person. I will make a statement like “well, he might not have been killed if he just didn’t run from the police,” in all innocence, and it will put me on the defensive trying to explain that I didn’t mean it in “that way.” After a heated discussion, I usually just get quiet. So, please forgive me if I am no so quick to engage in the topic of racism anymore. It doesn’t mean I’m “a “Karen.” Even that description is getting old to me. Not all white people are racists, so kindly refrain from assuming that I am.
Originally published at https://mersuniverse.wordpress.com on July 27, 2020.