Black Lives Matter: Let's Talk About White Privilege

Black Lives Matter: Let's Talk About White Privilege

Why we need to recognize that it exists.
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This week, I went to a public forum about the Black Lives Matter movement. At the end of the hour and a half that had been scheduled for the panel, most attendees were sad to leave, myself included. We felt as if the conversation had just begun; there was so much more to say, so many questions that had yet to be asked.

Although I am now filled with more questions and am more passionate about this movement than I was before, there was one specific idea that stuck out to me throughout the evening:

Saying we are "colorblind" or don't pay attention to race is part of the problem. As white people, we need to be aware of race. Ignoring race means we are willingly turning a blind eye to our white privilege.

One of the speakers on the panel was a middle-aged, white, male principal at a local high school. He is also married to an African American woman. He told us a story about an experience he had with the rest of the principals in our district. A guest speaker asked them to write down the percentage of an average day they spend thinking about race and then asked them to line up from 0-100 in a line, according to the percentage they wrote down. He was shocked to find that he was the only white person at the end of the line, as he had written down 100%. He described a stark contrast between the white principals at the lower end of the line and every principal of color at the higher end of the line.

If our colored brothers and sisters are thinking about their own race 100% of every day, why are we ignoring it 100% of the day? Being able to not think about race is in itself a privilege. In general, I don’t think about how my day is affected because I am white; that is because it is only affected by race in positive ways.

As a woman, this is something I wish I understood more. I constantly think about my gender and how that plays into the way people treat me or the way I am comfortable spending my time, and it frustrates me that my male friends will never quite understand what that is like. What I am coming to understand is that this is similar to how black people are treated in this country. Not only do they have to think about where they can go, or how they need to speak, they have to think about what perfect strangers will assume about them simply because of the color of their skin.

This isn't fair. It isn't just. It isn't love.

I will never fully be able to understand what my black friends go through in this country. I will never experience it first-hand. That doesn’t mean I can’t try. I think it actually means that I need to try that much harder.

I need to go out of my way to hear the stories of my black friends.

I need to have more black friends.

I need to listen.

I need to get out of my comfort zone.

This problem will never go away on its own. It will never be solved in one public meeting in Kansas. It will only be solved when we, as white people, start to acknowledge that this is our problem, too.

Skin is beautiful. Culture is beautiful. Diversity is beautiful. The point of Black Lives Matter is not to integrate two cultures to become one. The point is to stop the hurt. Our black brothers and sisters are hurting because of us, and when we don’t stand up for them, we are adding to the problem.

We must recognize that we are privileged. We must see that we have benefits because of our genetics. We must put a stop to this, even when that means giving up our own comfort.

When you don’t know how else to act, lean into love. As Rich Mullins once wrote, “Let mercy lead; let love be the strength in your legs, and with every footprint that you leave, there will be a drop of grace.”

Cover Image Credit: thisrenegadelove.com

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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The Ins And Outs Of Imposter Syndrome And How It Affects Women Of Color

We're taught by older generations that we always have to work twice as hard to get half as far as white peers.

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First things first I want to tell you what Imposter Syndrome is not. I know there are plenty of articles that discuss self-confidence through body image but I can guarantee you that's not what I'm talking about here. That could be another article for another day, perhaps. It's also not just a feeling of "oh, dang, I could've done that better" or "I wish I'd done that differently." It must also be noted that this is less of an actual disorder and more of a condition if you will.

What Imposter Syndrome actually is is feeling like nothing you accomplish is actually worth anything and that everything you've achieved is because of luck, not because of the work you put into it. It's always feeling like you're going to be exposed or found out for not actually being as intelligent or successful as you seem or as you say you are.

But how does this manifest in everyday life you ask? Well, of course, I am here to provide some examples.

Whenever I have a project due in one of my journalism classes, I make sure to listen to the instructions when it's being introduced. I always go back and read over the syllabus when completing my projects. I take the tips and tricks into account. I follow all of the guidelines I was given and I always try to put my best foot forward. Yet, I still always feel like I'm doing everything incorrectly or that I'm forgetting something. I feel like no matter what my professor is going to hate it and I'm going to get a bad grade.

Or it can manifest as whenever I try to apply for a job I have a hard time describing my skills or past work experience because I feel like I haven't really done anything relevant. I also don't really feel like I have many skills if any. I always remember that someone is going to have more experience or a better portfolio or a better resume. Whenever I remember that it can leave me feeling inadequate and like I don't belong. Like everyone else is a hireable employee and like I'm a poser.

I think this has a lot to do with the fact that, as a woman, you're socialized to put other people's needs and wants before your own whether that be celebrating other people's accomplishments or helping other people bounce back from failure. But you never really gain the skills to be that same support for yourself, at least not without years of work and undoing the internalized misogyny you've faced. Also because we've been socialized this way it can leave you feeling like you don't deserve anything good because the people around you haven't gotten there's yet. And that can be extremely difficult to break through.

As for people of color, because we're taught by older generations that we always have to work twice as hard to get half as far as white peers, we're always so used to exerting so much energy. But the moment you actually get recognized for your hard work can be jarring because you might feel like you weren't working as hard you could be and don't deserve it. Or that you got lucky this time but soon everyone is gonna find out the truth and you're gonna be exposed as a fraud or an underachiever.

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