Last night David and I sat in the living room discussing Ferguson, Mo. I was reading articles about what is happening there. Sadness, frustration, and anger fill me.
“This is ridiculous. I can’t believe this is happening in America.”
David is angry as well. “I know! Something needs to be done.”
“How can they get away with saying nothing? Doing nothing?”
“Because they’re the cops and can do whatever they want.”
“And because the person who was killed was black. This would never have happened if he was white.”
And there it is. The truth.
We talked longer. We discussed more of what is going on. We talked more about young black men being gunned down in the streets and nothing being done about it. Eventually James spoke up. “Please don’t say that word anymore.”
Killed is the word. Died. Death. He doesn’t like these words. They hurt his sweet, little soul. They scare him, and rightly so. He’s six years old and white; therefore, I have the privilege of not having to talk to him about these things at this time. I can shield him until he is older.
And there’s the word that I hate. Privilege. White privilege. This birthright that I inherited simply by being born to white parents. This thing I never asked for and don’t want. I want someone to take it back. I don’t deserve it, and I’ve never done anything to earn it.
The “it” being the advantageous treatment I’m automatically given simply for the color of my skin, when what is underneath is no different from my black and brown sisters. The blood, the bone, the muscle, the beating heart are all the same. The hand of the Father crafted us all.
I don’t want to be regarded differently. Treat me the same as you treat them.
Eye me with suspicion. Have security follow me through the store “just in case.” Make me work harder for every opportunity. Pay me even less than you do now for the same work the white man across the hall does. Arrest me more often, and when you do make sure that my sentence is longer. Clothe me in the suspicion of the welfare queen. Judge my nails, my clothes, my phone, my handbag, my music, my car against what you consider the norm or what you think I deserve.
Ask me if you can touch my hair.
Tell me you aren’t racist because you have A friend who is black. To my face, defend vile statements made by celebrities that I tell you are offensive. Co-opt my culture for your own. Put me in my place. Take my civil rights. Make it harder for me to vote and run for office. Refuse to learn or grow or know more about me and the challenges I face.
Make me pray harder when my son leaves the house. Make me worry that he will never return home. Make me teach him to fear the police, but to always act deferential because his life depends on it. Force me to teach my daughter that men will harass her in the streets and that she will be referred to as a bitch, whore, cunt, or animal if she defends herself.
Take back this privilege. Treat me the same as you do my black and brown sisters.
Or better yet…
Treat them the same as you do me.