What My Privilege Looks Like
The world is heavy. It always has been - just not for all of us.
I'm carrying a weight I can't define. News headlines and social media feeds pierce my reality and demand attention - not just to comprehend words and pictures staring back at me, but to discern my position on issues.
I'm grateful to have been raised in a family and community that taught all are equal, regardless of race, creed or color. But I'm also a child of the south with a family history of employing African Americans as farmhands, house cleaners, cooks and childminders. From what I could see, these men and women were loved and admired, but there was no mistaking they were part of a different tier of society.
I was afforded every privilege, from education and safe neighborhoods, to open doors in the workforce. Today my family has plenty of space to keep social distance. I don't have to worry when my children ride off on their bikes, and I'm amazed as we end remote learning that their public school teachers continue to send resources.
And yet, I have friends and colleagues of all races that are hurting right now. The pain in their voice is unmistakable, especially those who are Black. It doesn't matter their wealth, education, or how good of a human being they are. They're first judged by the color of their skin - even today, in the year 2020.
I will never know what that's like. But I can listen. I can engage in conversation and learn from a place of humility. I will acknowledge my privilege and never use it as an excuse for indifference. I will inevitably stumble and ask for forgiveness.
Yes, I can and must read all the information out there to unlearn my unconscious biases. Yes, I will support organizations that lift up people of color. Yes, I will remain vigilant and call out inequities in my local communities.
But most importantly, I will strengthen existing friendships with women and men, mothers and fathers who do not look like me. Real change happens with intimacy - with sharing meals, celebrating birthdays, grieving hardships. Only then can I express true empathy.
I will ask my friends questions - like how is it we can live in the same neighborhood, our kids attend the same school, yet because of the color of our skin our realities are vastly different?
I will encourage them to ask me questions - like how will I talk with my predominantly white network about our inherent privileges? How will we be open and honest about our biases? How will we acknowledge and reckon with our inaction up until this point?
I choose discomfort instead of selectively ignoring from the sidelines.
I choose consistent self-reflection and difficult conversations.
I will take action, not just speak platitudes - because the problem of racism is all of ours.
What will you do?
If you would like to engage in constructive conversation, you're welcome to enter my inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org.