I am wondering how I can truly understand the racial injustice piece. You see I come from white privilege. I was born into a middle-class white family. I can’t apologize for that, but I need to understand that I have an unearned advantage. I have what Peggy McIntosh, an associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, refers to as “An Invisible Knapsack of White Privilege.” I have assets inside like code books, guidebooks and blank checks that unknowingly I have used all my life. I grew up in a neighborhood with people like me-white. I never had to worry about the color of my skin. I never worried about people following me around in a store, I didn’t worry that I wouldn’t be accepted in my neighborhood because of my skin color. If I did get pulled over by the police I got the benefit of doubt.
All of this happened without me even thinking about it. It is only in my later years did I realize all that I have in my life. Honestly, some of this realization didn’t happen until we adopted 2 foreign born children who did not have our same skin color. With one adoption we lived in a rural community in Montana and our child was the only Asian individual at their school. I’m not saying I fully understood then, but it started opening my eyes to our world.
I believed if I treated everyone equally and with love, I was doing my part. But sometimes when we hesitate or do nothing, we are signaling silence to the hurting. Just being cool with everyone doesn’t mean we are advocating for anyone. I think that is what these latest protests are helping me realize. I don’t think the blame, shame or guilt game is a way to deal with this. I think we need to decide what we are comfortable doing—or maybe even uncomfortable. For some of us attending protests is a way to support, for others making donations, others make posters and signs. We need to Listen, Learn and Advocate.
So I’m going to take off my lens of white privilege and do something positive. Do you have a lens that you use to view people or the world? I challenge you to reach out in understanding and love. We can change the world, even one interaction at a time.