I have begun to type this article numerous times now. Each time, rewording the sentence structure, shaking my head at the knowledge that some people will still not understand any of it because it does not reach their doorstep. They are unaffected and so it simply does not exist; chalk it up to “fake news” and media glorification. While writing this, I have felt despair that there is even a need for this discussion.
But if I remain silent, I am part of the problem. With my inherent white privilege and this outlet and my experiences, I must speak up for those who cannot and those who should not have to, because this issue — the systemic racism and injustices that have been ingrained in our country and suppressing our nation’s people of color for centuries is NOT their problem to fix — it is ours.
It is the white allies who must now stand up and fight for what POC have deserved all along — the same inalienable rights every person should be born with. POC should not have to watch as their brothers, fathers, sons and nephews are murdered over and over again at the hands of law enforcement officers, with no changes being made to the system that declares to protect the people and uphold justice over all else.
Although I am white, and possess the same amount of white privilege as any other non-POC, this issue has been brought to my doorstep. It drives around in the car with my family, and its dangers and fears live in my head every time my husband walks out our front door. Since my husband is a 6 foot 3 inch, 200+ pound Black man with a scowl passed down through genetics (believe me, our three-year-old son already sports the “mean face”), he is immediately seen by the majority of people as intimidating, powerful, a possible threat. He has been targeted numerous times by the police for “driving while Black,” his vehicles raided and searched as he sits in handcuffs or the back of a cruiser. I’ve heard him, in the parking lot in front of our house answering police that no, he is not gang-affiliated, no, he has no aliases, yes, he was just coming home from work. With my husband’s outward appearance, he might as well have a permanent target displayed upon his back.
But if these officers, who are so quick to racially profile and target my husband, sat down next to him and had a conversation with him, they might learn a few things. Like how he makes the most deliciously moist homemade blueberry cupcakes with a homemade compote and frosting. They might be invited into our basement, where he stores his plethora of comic books, basketball cards and other nerdy memorabilia. They may scan through the incredible sketches and paintings he recreates of beautiful landscapes, or an offer may be made to help them with their gardening, as he is both an amazing artist and has a wicked green thumb. I might walk in to see them admiring the superhero mural he created in our son’s bedroom for his birthday this spring. I know for certain those officers, if they sat down next to my husband, would learn all about the main source of my husband’s pride in life — our three beautiful babies, who he pours unconditional, continuous love over daily.
After living in our neighborhood for a couple years, and my husband being pulled over multiple times, I watched as he began to wave at police officers when we passed them. He naturally created a bond with our children’s school resource officer, just through daily interactions while quickly picking our kids up from school. And still, knowing the life my husband leads, with his unwavering faith and natural drive to lead and protect, bearing witness to his incredible work ethic and the amount of love he gives to others and receives back onto himself, I still fear every time he drives home from work at night, or goes to the store to pick up a late night snack.
I continue to worry any time he is held up a few minutes late and running behind. I pray for his safety and that God returns him home to me everyday. When I see a man, unarmed, running in a neighborhood and shot down, I see my husband’s face. When I hear a man pleading, repeating that he cannot breathe, I hear my husband’s voice. Because he could easily be next. Anyone fitting the description could be the next victim. This disgusting, undeniable fact must cause your blood to boil. It must stir up outrage deep in your soul and it needs to move you to action.
As white allies, we must acknowledge our white privilege to raise our voices at every chance we are given to speak out against racism, even when it is uncomfortable — especially when it is uncomfortable. We must be willing to cut ties with those who support racist ideologies. We must call out other white people for their racism, whether it be with malicious intent or pure ignorance. We must do our best to support those who are treated unfairly in our presence. We must never idly sit back in silence and watch as our Black communities are targeted and killed by police. We must rise up and attend rallies, write to our politicians, demand justice be served, push for equality and continuously learn as much as we can about systematic racism in order to properly dispel it first from our own lives and then move on to all areas of our lives until whole communities begin to see a change. We must vote for candidates — in every election, both local and national — who truly represent our voices, our beliefs and who share the same moral compass and ability to empathize. We must say the names and acknowledge all of the POC who have been lost to the cycles of racism for centuries and who, I am sure, we will continue to lose in the future.
We must do better. We must demand better. Until those of us who are not directly affected by racism are as outraged as the ones who are, we will see no change. Continue to speak up and stand behind our brothers and sisters of color, because their fight is ultimately ours.