I used to pride myself on not being racist. Then one day I had to face a really uncomfortable truth. I am racist. I am not color blind. My experiences as a white girl from the Chicago suburbs have impacted my worldview- I certainly do not believe that black (African American people are (insert negative adjective here). I think we are all people- but I have to admit- even though it pains me to do so- that I have certain privileges that others do not.
One day, someone I don’t know questioned if one of the women I look up to most in the world for her intelligence, her pride, her willingness to discuss any topic honestly was called racist.
Admittedly, I know absolute crap about the day to day experiences of black Americans- and I was (and am) concerned that I would stick my foot in my mouth again, or that my words as a white woman would not carry weight. Still I said something.
I said (typed) that my friend is not racist. She is proud of her heritage (as she should be) angry that white do-gooders so often co-opt her very real day to day experiences in a self-serving manner, “Look at all of the good we are doing for these poor black folks” and it is crap. Complete and total bullshit.
Honestly, I know exceptionally little about African cultures or day to day experiences of an average black person. What I do know is that they are justified in their anger. I know they do not need my help- they are quite capable.
What little I do know about African culture is amazing and beautiful. Their cultures (the very few that I have learned about) have innate power, beauty, and incredible authenticity. The last thing they need is my help. White people have scripted Africa as a whole and people of color as marginalized people who require the saving of white people. That is NOT true. They do not need saving- they need to stop having this stupid script played over and over!
What I can do is to work in my community to help heal the wounds that we caused and continue to cause. I can share within my community my respect for the black experiences, and help my community to realize that we really messed up- then hopefully work to earn the black community’s trust back.
I can never ‘get’ it though, saying otherwise is the worst kind of dishonest.
Let me be clear I do not hate black people (African American), Hispanic people, or anyone.