These are my bookends. My oldest and my youngest. Brothers. This week I find myself consumed in fear. Consumed and unable to distract myself from the very different futures our current system has laid out for them, based solely on the contrast between them. Black and white. Nevermind that IJ is in fact biracial, the system doesn’t care to look any deeper than face value right now, so he will be afforded the same white privilege I was. His brother, all three of his brothers, instead will be met with oppression by a system built on their dehumanization.

This week I watched a big, beautiful Black man beg for his life and ultimately be lynched in the middle of a busy street in daylight in 2020 by four men in badges earned for their sworn oath to protect. The only thing they were protecting was their white fragility. I can’t breathe when I hear him begging for mercy, calling for his mother. I can’t breathe when I see the smug indifference on his murderer’s face, hands in his pockets, the picture of apathy while he snuffs out a life. I. Can’t. Breathe. when I think about how that could so easily be my sons in the very near future if this continues.

The collective confusion or flat out denial in the white community of our inherent privilege needs to stop. We treat it as if it is some taboo subject. White people are so afraid that admitting to their privilege will automatically categorize them as a racist, when really it’s your silence or refusal of the topic that does so. The privilege is there either way. It resides in the most simple decisions we make on a daily basis whether or not we acknowledge or even realize it. Let me break it down for you: I am a 30 year old white woman. I can do, say, and be all of these things without fear:

I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery).
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson).
I can sleep soundly in my own house (#AiyanaJones and #BreonnaTaylor).
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride).
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark).
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards).
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis).
I can sell CDs (#AltonSterling).
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown).
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice).
I can go to church (#Charleston9).
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin).
I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell).
I can party on New Year’s (#OscarGrant).
I can get a traffic ticket (#SandraBland).
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile).
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones).
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford) .
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher).
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott).
I can be a 10 year old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover).
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese).
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans).
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo).
I can run (#WalterScott).
I can breathe (#EricGarner and #GeorgeFloyd).
I can live (#FreddieGray).

I get to do, say, and be all of those things because of the white privilege I was born into built up over hundreds of years in a racist system based off of oppression. The forty names up there are forty Black bodies that should still be alive and thriving today. But instead their lives were cut short during those simple actions based solely on their Blackness. There is no “not racist” in this system. Your “I didn’t know…”, your “I hadn’t heard….”, your “there must be more to the story”, your “colorblind”, your “all lives matter”, your SILENCE, is covert and flat out overt white privilege that only perpetuates the broken system. Being truly anti-racist as a white person is acknowledging YOUR OWN privilege, and actively working to dismantle the broken system that afforded it to you.

If you ran a few miles for Amaud and then went back to life as usual until you saw the video of George and shared his picture declaring once again that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, I’m sorry but that’s not enough. Empathy is not enough. Those platitudes are only bandaids on a gaping wound. There’s work to be done between the massive public outcries, and there are lives that were taken that didn’t get as many headlines. What about Breonna? Are you not as quick to cry out when there isn’t a video? When it’s a woman at home rather than a man in the street?

I need you to do the work. I need you to feel gutted at another loss of life. I need you to feel angry at another senseless killing. I need you to realize that BLACK LIVES MATTER, and say it out loud without feeling like it somehow threatens your whiteness. I need you to be an ally for our black brothers and sisters. I need you to care for them the way Jesus implored us to care for all humans. To my fellow Christians, I’m looking right at you here. I need you to value and protect all Black life. Not just the unborn babies, not just my cute sons, not just your friends and neighbors. ALL. I need you to question the system. I need you to educate yourself on the inequities. I need you to be concerned that our fellow Black Americans are three times as likely to be killed by the police and are incarcerated at five times the rate of whites when they only make up 14% of the population. That doesn’t add up.

I need you to speak up. I need you to get loud. I need you to stop letting the little microagressions slide. I need you to stop making excuses for intolerable behavior. I need you to call it out. It’s going to require some education, some unlearning of ingrained biases. It’ll be uncomfortable. Lean into that. You’ll probably say the wrong thing. You might be corrected by a POC. Lean into that. Listen to the Black voices willing to put their time and energy into educating. Learn from them. Follow them. Support them. Share them. Quote them. I hope you’ll start with that list, those forty names.* I hope you won’t just share their hashtag but also learn their story, mourn their loss, pray for the family and friends shattered by their death. And then I hope you’ll get to work doing everything in your power to prevent another hashtag.

*This task was made easy for you by the incredible Rachel Cargle who curated a “syllabus of sorts” with links to every story behind every name:

IG accounts to follow:

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *