I’m afraid to write about race.
I’m afraid, not because I don’t feel it’s important to speak out against intolerance, racism and police brutality, but because I truly believe I can never understand just how much my vast amount of privilege from being a white man has afforded me and I fear my voice and words will never encapsulate how much people of colour are mistreated in our society.
However, it is important for me to show solidarity with the protests we are seeing around North America because there are so many things that my privilege has granted me, many of which African Americans, Indigenous peoples and people of colour may have lost their lives for.
I have been able to make choices in my life like driving over the speed limit on a highway; participating in peaceful protests; speaking out in public forums; going jogging; and going for walks through white neighborhoods. I have been able to make those everyday choices without thinking which of those choices could have led to my death if I was black. I’m white and male, so I lived…because of my privilege.
I don’t want to live in a world that is this unequal; I don’t want to live in a world with police brutality against people of colour; I don’t want to live in a world with this much pain; I don’t want to live in a world that allows me to live peacefully at the expense of others and I want to be part of a solution that is anti-racist, anti-fascist and loving.
How can I, and people like me, be part of this solution?
The truth is I’m not educated enough on the pain endured by people of colour and I need to fix that. I try to read black and Indigenous authors, I try to listen to black and Indigenous voices. I try to see past the power my privilege has afforded me, but I need to do more in order to help create a world that is fair to everyone. I, and others who share my privilege, need to educate ourselves even if it’s uncomfortable.
Most of all, I need to be comfortable with the idea of letting go of my own privilege in order to create a truly equal world for people of colour in our world. I have been awarded power in a society that structurally limits and oppresses others in my favour. I may not have have asked for that privilege, but I have undoubtedly benefited from it. I need to realize that just because I believe I am not overtly racist – that doesn’t mean I haven’t lived in a structurally racist society that I need to help tear down.
The last week has seen the seams in western society crack. Rather than patch those seams and allow crimes like the murder of George Floyd to happen again, the system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up allowing for love and tolerance, while rejecting racism, fascism, violence and police brutality.
Black Lives Matter and it is up to everyone to let go of privilege and stand up for every one of those black lives.