I don’t know if I am a “good white person.” I’m not sure I know what that means really. My skin color is fair courtesy of genes I inherited from the maternal side of my family. My father’s skin is swarthy courtesy of mixed blood on his side. I identify as Caucasian largely because that’s how I was raised. I was raised to be white.
I can’t remember a time when injustice didn’t bother me. Even as a young child I was acutely aware that people were treated differently in ways I didn’t always understand. I befriended those considered socially unacceptable by the cool kids in school and observed as I was treated differently as well.
I became a lawyer somewhat because of this but that decision was complex too. After several years I left the profession for a variety of reasons too but not before I learned the criminals weren’t always the ones accused of committing crimes.
What does it mean to be good? I try to do the right things. I fail at lot largely because I can’t seem to get out of my own way. No one knows better than me that I’m a deeply flawed individual. All I can say is that I try.
This article touched me in ways that are hard to articulate. I respect the hell out of the author for what she said and for sharing her personal experiences and viewpoint. It was very well done and an important piece in a much needed discussion about race relations.
Yet, it pissed me off because I don’t know what the author would have me do?
I don’t want a pat on the back for speaking out against injustice. That always seems patronizing to me. I do it because there is this force inside me that compels me to do it. I really can’t explain it. It has always been there. It has always driven me.
I don’t want a pat on the back but I would, however, like to be treated as an ally. A sister in arms if you will. Someone you can count on to have your back in the fight against not just against racial inequity but against the incredibly difficult minefield women are forced to navigate every single damn day.
I know women of color have it worse than me because of the color of our skin. I don’t know how that experience feels personally but I have eyes and ears. I don’t even know what I can do to help except speak out against the inequity and unfairness that women of color fight against.
Yet, I can’t help but feel sometimes that I’m intruding on a conversation and fight where I’m not wanted. Where my voice is neither welcomed nor needed because of the color of my skin. Because I can’t possibly understand the struggle since I am privileged in ways that women of color are not.
I get that I don’t know that struggle. I’m not sure my voice will even make a difference. I want to try though. I don’t know maybe just maybe we can bridge those differences between us if we are willing to link arms, acknowledge our differences and focus on the fight against injustice that unites us all?
If that is possible what would you have me do? Stay silent? Stay on the sidelines? Stay in my own lane? Or continue to speak out and speak up and protest the racial and gender inequality that plagues us all?
I really would like to know.