The other day I was in a conversation with a group of WHITE women at my internship. One brought up how when she was running the other day, she saw a black woman wearing a shirt that said something along the lines of "black women run better". She then stated that if she wore a shirt like that about white women, that she would get shamed. Keep this story in mind.
Then the other day, a girl was venting about how she was angry at a friend at her school (who's black) for calling her and some other girls "the white girl squad". The then said the same structured sentence as the girl in the first story; "If I called someone's group the black girl squad I would get in trouble!".
Nothing can make me roll my eyes harder than when people do the whole, "If I did that, then this group of people would be mad at me". Both of these situations brought about a realization in me that I think many people need to consider. A white person can say this sentence, pretending that they think that the two groups are equal. Yet they know a racist friend who has said harsh slurs to a classmate, or they have a grandfather who gives people of color nasty stares, or have a mother who speaks to people of color differently than they would a white person.
People of color deal with racism and discrimination on a DAILY basis. This doesn't mean that it's upfront and out there for everyone to see, but they ARE treated more negatively than many whites are. And I may not have any place to speak on this situation, however, I think the conversation can start somewhere and maybe some of my friends and family members will listen to me, and change their mindset.
So yes, I did tell the girls that I work with that the runner is justified in wearing that t-shirt. I told them to look around and count all the non-white people up at the front building and think about how they got in this position. I told them that they would not have the jobs that they have if they were of color. There is one full time black woman at the front building, and one black intern which is her granddaughter. People of color have to work MUCH harder to climb the career ladder. So if they want to wear t-shirts that express empowerment for colored women, they can! You as a white person don't need that validation as your privilege allows you to receive it every single day.
To make some people understand this better, i'm going to use the example of women's rights. Sure, we have all the same rights as men on paper. But does that stop them from harassing us, following us, not giving us a higher position, thinking we should be at home with the kids, claiming we slept with men to make it to the top? Exactly. Women can have the same rights, but that does not mean that society will look at you the same way they look at a man. Now translate that over to the race situation.