Nobody is born racist. It is a learned behavior through family, friends, and media.
Today I am constantly frustrated that people don’t understand what “White Privilege” really is. I am a white male living in the United States who is a beneficiary of white privilege.
So let me start there. Having White Privilege itself doesn’t make you racist. It simply means that you most likely have been able to obtain more, do more, and be hassled less because of the color of your skin. People aren’t mad at you personally. So, if you are white, own the fact that you may have gotten something a little extra out of life that someone else hadn’t. This is the starting point, acknowledge that other people are less privileged. And now let’s figure out what we need to do to fix it.
Now back to my story. I’ve said and done some very stupid things because I didn’t know better. Now I do, and I regret them dearly. I had “friends” that would tell very racist jokes and I’d laugh. I said untrue things like “some of my best friends are black”. Sure, I had black acquaintances, but to say some of my best friends were was just to make me feel better when talking to other people.
The day I learned I was racist is still so ingrained in my brain. I can’t apologize to this woman enough. I worked with a white female friend at a grocery store. She was in an interracial relationship. I had the gall to tell her that “I don’t believe in interracial relationships”. WTF?!?!?!
Why did I say this to her? Goes back to my childhood where my mom would tell me how disappointed she’d be if I brought home a black woman. We are taught biases and beliefs that may not be true. Granted in the 90’s it could have just been my mom trying to protect me from society, but that doesn’t make it right.
Fast forward to my college years where I said those words to my friend and the devastation I saw in her face. How dare I?!?!?! I definitely learned something during that time. I was lucky to also meet my now wife who has the utmost respect for all people and has taught me so much about white privilege, it’s meaning, and is helping us raise two sons that know what racism is and what they should be doing to stop it. To hear my 3 and 5 years olds talking about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, and others makes me both happy and sad. The fact that they know what is going on and how wrong it is makes me happy. The fact that they know them for what happened to them makes me sad.
While I am not close with the friend I said those words to, I am happy to be friends on Facebook and see that she went on to marry that man, raise a great family and see that she is now a grandmother to a little baby with the same name as my son.
To my “friends/family” that are sharing posts like “All Lives Matter”, “Police Lives Matter”, etc… you are showing your ignorance about what is happening in this world. You are on the wrong side of history.
To my “friends/family” that believe monuments to confederate soldiers is history, why in the hell would you want to idolize the losers of the war. Those are statues of people that were fighting against the United States. You too are on the wrong side of history.
People can change. You can unlearn your biases. But you have to start with admitting that you have White Privilege. You have to start by realizing where our biases are. I am still not perfect, but I’d like to think I am WAY better off today then I was 30 years ago.