Black History Month has just come to an end. If the last four centuries haven't been enough evidence for you, the last few years have definitely shown the injustice black people still face in 2021.
So what is white privilege? White privilege is defined by the fact that white people have an advantage, the ability to get more opportunities, success, etc., than those who have a non-white skin color.
If that definition doesn't make sense, here are some examples:
1) White people don't often have to worry about their children, especially sons, being targeted because of how they look. White parents don't need to worry about the safety of their children when they go out.
2) White people have the privilege to, generally, have a positive relationship with the police.
3) White people have the privilege to avoid racist comments, violence, or racism as a whole.
So why is acknowledging white privilege so difficult?
The majority of people that I grew up around have yet to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Why isn't fighting police brutality and systemic racism important?
Despite the lack of support, I have seen quite a few of my acquaintances' posts in honor of #BlackoutTuesday. What bothers me is while they have posted this, they still promote "Make America Great Again," by wearing hats, brandishing flags, posters, and signs, and going to rallies. Some even take part in denying the legitimacy of the election results and have refused to accept President Biden as our new political leader.
There is obviously a double standard here, which makes me wonder if #BlackoutTuesday posts were made to go along with the crowd, rather than agreeing with the motive behind this tribute.
Do people really think that these brutal acts are justified?
"I can't breathe!" was the statement heard across the nation. While people of all races agree that George Floyd has died, I have found that people found ways to justify the deaths of this man and many other unarmed black people that have been brutalized and murdered.
I've heard 'arguments' that the death of George Floyd was justified because he was a 'criminal.' I've also heard that the murder of Breonna Taylor as she slept in her apartment was deemed acceptable, even though she was asleep in her bed and her apartment was broken into due to an investigation in which she was not a suspect. After she was shot, she sat alive in her bed as she bled out and her life slowly and painfully drained from her body.
Who was Emmett Till, and why does his story matter?
14-year-old Emmett Till was a Chicago native that traveled to Mississippi to visit his great-uncle. Before he left, his mother warned him of the dangers of the South and told him to lay low and stay aware of the unsafe Southern environment for black American youth. When he arrived in Mississippi and visited the downtown with his cousins, he allegedly whistled at a white woman -- a greatly frowned-upon concept. Later that night, some townsmen came for him, forcing him from his family's home, and drove to a remote location where they tortured and killed him. A few days later, his grossly disfigured body was found by a fisherman, weighed down with the intent that his body would never be found. When his body was shipped home, his mother insisted that his casket be left open so the world could witness what white racists had done to her son. When Till's attackers were arrested, the all-male jury allowed the men to go free. In the places where Till was tortured and his body was dumped, historical markers were placed in memory of him which, to this day, are still disfigured. After a major public outcry, the Civil Rights Movement soon developed, bringing activists like James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Medgar Evers.
After slavery was abolished on January 31, 1865, the status of African-Americans was elevated, though not significantly. So, why was the Civil Rights Movement met with such animosity? Were African-Americans supposed to be grateful for their new lives in America? Were they supposed to fall in line and accept their assumed inferiority in American society? Knowing the motive and mission of the KKK and other white supremacist groups, these theories might actually be true.
Have things gotten better? Have there been any changes? Is change possible?
I wish I could say things are changing and getting better, but as of 2020, nothing has changed. Police still kill unarmed black men and women, and society still finds ways to justify their deaths. I talked with a former professor at Cornerstone, Dr. Brenda King, who told me how black men would avoid being alone with a white woman. Because of what has happened in the past, (lynching of black men accused of rape, physical assault, murder) they still avoid the possibility that their perceived intentions and actions can be distorted and misused (see: the story of Emmett Till).
Black Lives Matter was created because, in reality, their lives don't seem to matter. I know the "counterargument" is that "all lives matter," or even "blue lives matter." I disagree with both. As for the first statement, right now, all lives don't matter. All lives won't matter until black lives (and other minorities' lives) matter. And in response to the second statement, the color of one's skin is not a choice. The argument that "blue lives matter" is irrelevant because one can choose to be in law enforcement, while choosing the color of one's skin isn't an option. Again, all lives matter will only be acceptable when all lives do matter, and right now, they don't.
It's 2021, and nothing has changed. Is change possible? Not in our current society. We are still too divided. I hope that with the help and influence people like poet Amanda Gorman, Vice President Kamala Harris, and our new president, Joe Biden, can begin to facilitate healing and reconciliation both in our own country and with other parts of the world.
We are better than this. Let's strive to do better. Let's be better.