Updated: Jun 7
I'll just start off by saying I'm half native-american, half white. I identify myself as native because I grew up on a reserve, but I have white privilege because to most, I just look completely white.
So I've been noticing a lot of comments lately on social media and I keep seeing the same comments everywhere. Here are some repeating themes I couldn't help but connect:
People who comment "not everything's about race", are the ones who never have to think/constantly be reminded of their race.
People who say "white people can be oppressed too" or "but I don't feel privileged", are referring to the types of struggles and disadvantages that everyone faces. Black Lives Matter refers specifically to struggles that only Black people face. The kind you can't relate to or even see, because it never happens to you.
People who say "I'm not racist" are first of all, trying way too hard to defend their stance/have been challenged to defend their stance which in effect, makes them look racist.
And people who say "all lives matter", are people who grew up feeling as though their lives really did matter.
If you feel compelled to say any of these things while people are having real discussions about race, their traumatic experiences with being treated differently because of the color of their skin, their built up anger over time because they’ve been in pain for centuries, it's because you have the PRIVILEGE to not even have to think about any of these things! Your skin color is a non-issue for you, and you are now projecting that "non-issue" into the lives and experiences of Black people.
Whereas their skin color determines everything, from how much nicer they must behave in public, to whether or not they are going to get killed on an average day.
Even more, you are assuming that everyone thinks and feels the same way you do! And what are thoughts and feelings? A product of lived experiences. But guess what? Not everyone lives the same life experiences as you do.
So not only are you privileged... but you don't think about other people, either!
(Or maybe you do, but are subconsciously choosing to numb it out because deep down you know that just by being white, you benefit directly from a racist society! And admitting that might mean... giving up those benefits?)
So guess what, white folks? This isn't about you! For once, just accept that society is shifting to focus on Black people and their voices. White people's voices have dominated mass media for CENTURIES. We're not saying "all lives matter" or "white lives matter"... because we've never had to! It's been pretty obvious for thousands and thousands of years, that white lives do in fact matter. The "all lives matter" movement is simply a display of white fragility and the me me me-ness that is in fact, a direct product of society's over-amplification of white people and their voices. But again, white people, not everything is about you. So calm down and just acknowledge the fact that you've never been racially profiled a day in your life. I haven't either, but I understand that Black people are on a daily basis. Hence the need to remind the system that yes, Black lives DO in fact matter.
This is why admitting to your white privilege [at the very least] shows that you actually think about the lives of other people.
Educating yourself on the lived experiences of Black people and actively participating in the dismantling of racism, shows that you actually care about the lives of others. That their pain is your pain.
What an amazing thing.
If all of humanity banded together and helped each other to thrive, the human race would be truly unstoppable. So what's calling someone names going to do? Is it making you money? Are you finding yourself getting happier with all that hate you keep spreading in defense of your whiteness? Grow up, stirring around in your own ego won't get you anywhere in life.
This is what white privilege looks like. People being so used to, so comfortable with their own privilege, that they can't be bothered to think about what life might feel like to a Black person in this world. In this country.
As Jane Elliot stated to an audience full of white people, “Please stand if you would be happy to receive the same treatment as our Black citizens do in this society”.
Not a single white person stood up.
So stop pretending that "all lives matter", when you already have a pretty good idea of what it might feel like to be a person of color in this world. To be Black.
The truth is, we’re on the cusp of a revolution. Why do you think protests (though peaceful and legal) are seen as "threatening" to the system? Because they have the potential to spark a revolution.
This right here is an opportunity for real change. While everyone is tuning in and learning about the lived experiences of Black people, we are entering an opportune time to actually enact change and put an end to racism. So that humanity can finally come together as ONE collective.
And how's the best way to do that? By educating ourselves on what Black people go through, and have been going through, so that we never again feel the need to defend our whiteness or project our experiences onto them. Because as white people, we realize that our experiences in fact do NOT compare to theirs. White privilege does NOT excuse white ignorance. Again, just by being white, you are receiving direct benefits (whether you are aware of it or not) at the expense of Black people.
All lives will never matter, UNTIL Black lives matter.
BOOKS FOR WHITE ALLYSHIP:
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son - Tim Wise
So You Want To Talk About Race - Ijeoma Olua
Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race - Reni-Eddo Lodge
Between The World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates