I have two beautiful boys. And every day I’m realizing more and more that they will both be judged for their skin – one with more compassion, for the most part. One with more disdain.
When Gideon is with us, he will be okay. Not because of who he is, but because of who we are. He will not be like “those others” because his parents are white. While this will certainly present him with some problems – maybe he will be teased, maybe he will not be considered “black” enough, maybe it will make him somewhat of an outcast with peers of similar skin tone, it WILL likely ensure his safety. When he is with us and we get pulled over for a busted tail light or an expired registration, he will likely not be shot four times and killed for reaching for his wallet.
But I fear for him when he is on his own. We will most definitely have to have conversations with him that don’t make any rational sense. Matt was just saying this week that we will have to make sure he knows not to EVER cut through someone’s yard, even if it is the quickest route. He should not wear a hood when out in public. He should never knock on someone’s door unannounced. Jonah could do these things, but Gideon cannot. Now we will add to these warnings. Don’t ever carry a gun, even if you are carrying it legally and with the proper license. Don’t ever get angry out in public. Go completely and ridiculously above and beyond with respectful and placating words when talking to police officers, even if they have pulled you over for no reason. Even if they are accusing you of something that is totally ludicrous. Even if they are being rough with you, grab you, shove you, push you, curse you. Do not speak up for yourself. Do not show any disrespect. Keep your black mouth shut.
Are you pissed off yet? Are you pissed at me or are you pissed at the reality of this country where we live? Are you in complete denial? Do you know that one aspect of white privilege is that we have the luxury to pretend that there isn’t a problem? We can close our eyes to oppression and abuse, because we are not directly affected. We can view ourselves as the “we” and view “them” as the “others” and live in our ivory towers of complacency and apathy. Our black friends do not have that luxury. They live every day in this REALITY, with these FACTS, and I get to say that because your reality does not affect me, it does not exist. I am white, and you are a liar.
To make matters worse, we start spouting phrases like “All lives matter” to try to make ourselves feel better, like the oppressed are at fault. I was reading a Relevant article today, and it said that this is similar to running a race for cancer, all the while screaming, “THERE ARE OTHER DISEASES TOO!” Of course all lives matter. Because they are precious and God given and beautiful. But ALL lives are not being senselessly and repeatedly taken. ALL lives are not being oppressed and threatened on a daily basis. ALL lives are not having to live in fear when they are wrongly accused by the privileged or pulled over by the cops. Yes, all lives matter. But that does not stop us from standing up and saying that Black lives matter. Because right now, it is our Black brothers and sisters who are being persecuted, are living in fear, and who need our voices. Not because we are white. But because we are human. I am them and they are me, and I stand up and shout out and demand what is right and good for my fellow human beings.
You can be quiet and pretend these things don’t exist if you choose. It is not right and it is not okay, but it is your choice. I will not. I will no longer be silent. Matt said, “The laws may be the same for everyone, but the rules are completely different.” THAT is the truth. THAT is the reality.
And when a black man brings it up, someone who has an audience and a platform and a voice, we, the privileged, start a petition to get him kicked off the TV. Because the last thing we want is to feel uncomfortable or to be accused of the truth. Can you please stop messing up my entertainment with your realness? It’s awfully inconvenient. I just want to watch my stories.
Meanwhile we share on Facebook, over and over, a white teen being tazed to the point of a coma and permanent brain damage, because he looks like me and what if that was my son and oh, the humanity! But the guy who got shot four times reaching for his wallet? Or the guy that was shot to death while cuffed on the ground? They are not my people. I cannot relate to that. Also, I’m sure they had it coming. I don’t need to stand up and make a big deal about that because ALL lives matter. Haven’t you heard?
No. Stop it.
When does the us stop being the us and the them stop being the them? When do we stop viewing our family in compartments of “otherness” and decide to fight for our brothers and sisters, because they are just that. When do we scream no to apathy and denial and start standing up for something? Something more than fighting the persecution of Christian Chicken or that the lines are too long at the DMV and start standing up for something that really matters?
Someone. When do we start standing up for our someones who really matter?
Enough is enough. And I’m truly and sincerely sorry that it’s taken me this long to say it. I should have never chosen silence. It was wrong, and I am sorry.