Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 15 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.
My “Secret Subject” is:
Tell us about something that you own that you are not using but cannot bear to part with.
It was submitted by: http://Bakinginatornado.com
I had this brilliant idea for today’s post. I was going to post my first vlog, until I realized every angle was a choice between 2 chins or 3. I tried using my selfie stick, but almost fell down the stairs, and I did read a statistic once about selfie stick related deaths. Perhaps a vlog is not the best option for me personally.
My second plan was to take pics of three specific areas in my home that I need to clean out and/or organize but just can’t motivate myself to do so for varied reasons. Mostly laziness. My son’s closet for example. His babyhood is in that closet. Ok, so yeah you can barely get his closet door shut, but cleaning it out means throwing stuff away or giving it away, which means saying goodbye officially to his infancy. I mean I still tell people I’m trying to lose my baby weight.
“Oh, how old is your baby?”
“Yeah, let’s go with that, shall we.”
What? He’s just freakishly big for his age. Don’t judge me.
Finding any humor in anything these days is extremely difficult. Which brings me to what I decided to actually blog about today.
Sometimes the hardest baggage to offload or unpack is not tangible or physical, it’s emotional.
I would say this has been a horrific week, but it’s been months. Months and months of just one hit after another. The tragic loss of life. Inexplicable. Devastating. Violence so senseless, most of us are left broken-hearted asking ourselves and each other why. We search for answers, we pray for guidance, we weep for humanity, we rage against the insanity of it all.
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Mahatma Ghandi
I’ll be honest. I don’t want to relinquish my white privilege. I may feel I don’t actively use it, that I’ve never been put in a situation where being white was the difference between life or death. But how would I know? I’m white. I’ve never not been white.
“The irony of American History is the tendency of good white Americans to presume racial innocence. Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege. In other words, it is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.” Tim Wise
I’ll be honest. When I first heard about the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I immediately started forming my argument for why they were to blame for their own deaths, not the police. Then I watched the videos. I was ashamed. I wept. My heart is heavy. Even now, it’s hard to let go of the idea that there must be some explanation that hasn’t come to light. A vital piece of evidence or eye witness account that exonerates the police officers involved. I envelope myself in the peace, comfort and safety of my white privilege and most of the time I’m not even aware I’m doing it and that is a huge part of the problem. Sticking my head in the sand and making excuses for abhorrent, irrational and inexcusable behavior is the root of blindness that accompanies white privilege. I even hate the word white privilege. I want to reject it and everything it means, because to me it somehow implies that I’m not a good person or that I’m somehow to blame. Responsibility and ownership are bitter pills to swallow in the matter of racial oppression.
“After all, acknowledging unfairness then calls decent people forth to correct those injustices. And since most persons are at their core, decent folks, the need to ignore evidence of injustice is powerful. To do otherwise would force whites to either push for change (which they would perceive as against their interests) or live consciously as hypocrites who speak of freedom and opportunity but perpetuate a system of inequality.” Tim Wise
As I prepare for bed last night, my phone flashes a new alert. Snipers target police officers at a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in my hometown of Dallas, 12 officers shot, 5 dead.
I tossed and turned all night. All I could hear in my head was the little voice of the 4 year old girl, sitting in the back seat of a squad car with her handcuffed mother, a little girl who watched Philando Castile get shot by a police officer, from the back seat of the car seemingly pulled over for a routine traffic stop, telling her mommy “it’s ok mommy, I’m here with you.”
“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” Nelson Mandela
It’s difficult to look at myself in the mirror, place my white privilege humbly before me, and acknowledge that I am part of the problem. I can’t pretend that I know what it’s like to be black. If my husband got pulled over for speeding or a headlight out or a broken taillight, it would never occur to me to be afraid. To fear for his life. My son and his friends play outside with their nerf and/or pretend guns and I never worry that a police officer will mistake those for real guns and shoot first, ask questions later. I don’t know what it feels like to be considered a threat just because of the color of my skin. I’m white wherever I go. It’s the first statement I make when I enter a room.
Police officers are supposed to be the guardians of our personal freedoms and rights. They are sworn to protect and serve us. ALL of us. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even know the questions most of the time. What I know is that we are divided. We are bruised and bleeding. We feel powerless. We are struggling to catch our collective breaths. We lash out. We blame. We point fingers. We are afraid. Fear is a tricky thing. It’s elusive, living in shadows, waiting to prey on our insecurities. Ruled by fear, we are destined to repeat our mistakes. We fail to learn from our history. We fix nothing. We cannot heal. Fear cloaks our prejudices. Fear is the beacon of injustice. We cannot allow ourselves to continue to be ruled by fear, by prejudice and yes….by white privilege.
“The history of humanity has, to a large extent, been one of groping blindly in the dark, fearing for the future and yet resisting the guiding hand of inspired men who would willingly lead mankind in the path of safety.” Ezra Taft Benson
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I want to be a light upon the world. I want change to start with me. I want to be a part of the solution, not the problem. I don’t know how to do that, maybe writing this blog post is a start. I might be the only person that actually reads it but if we change, even just one heart at a time, doesn’t that matter? Doesn’t that count? Isn’t that a start? It’s not that the conversation needs to change, the conversation hasn’t even happened yet. We are too busy blaming each other. We’ve retreated into our separate corners, eyeing each other warily, waiting…watching to see what happens next. Comfortable in the knowledge that these things happen to OTHER people. Not us. A blind eye can be turned, our conscious clear, because after all, it’s not our problem. What can we do?
“What whites have rarely had to think about — because being the dominant group, we are so used to having our will done, with a little effort at least — is that maybe the point is not victory, however much we all wish to see justice attained and injustice routed. Maybe our redemption comes from the struggle itself. Maybe it is in the effort, the striving for equality and freedom that we become human.” Tim Wise
I don’t want to give up my white privilege. It keeps me safe, my children safe. I can’t bear to part with it, I’m afraid.
I am afraid. Paralyzed with fear.
I’m ashamed of that fear. It can’t continue. Change is necessary. Change is imperative to our very survival.
“Standing still is never an option so long as inequities remain embedded in the very fabric of the culture.” Tim Wise
I desire a better life for my children. I want to leave the world better than I found it. Racial oppression permeates and invades the very fabric of our society on every level. It is propagated by white privilege. We are the problem. We are also the solution. We must be. Failure should not be an option.
“People never hurt others in moments of personal strength and bravery, when they are feeling good about themselves, when they are strong and confident. If we spent all of our waking moments in that place, then fighting for social justice would be redundant; we would simply have social justice and be done with it, and we could all go swimming, or fishing, or bowling, or dancing, or whatever people do. But it is because we spend so much of our time in that other place, that place of diminished capacity, of flagging energy, or wavering and somewhat flaccid commitment, the we have to be careful.” Tim Wise
Change can only happen when we acknowledge the problems in the first place. We need to shine a bright spotlight on the ugly nature of our white privilege, of racial oppression and hatred. It’s ok to be afraid. It’s not ok to bury our heads in the sand and hope it all goes away on it’s own and turn a blind eye so social injustice, violence and prejudice on every level. Shame on us if we continue to do so. Shame on us if we do nothing. Shame on us if we dismiss this as someone else’s problem. Shame on us.
I pray for guidance and strength. I don’t have all the answers. My blog today is probably incoherent and rambling, a testament to how lost I feel in the world we live in today. I hope that acknowledging my white privilege is a good start. Awareness the first step in changing attitudes, changing lives.
“Humanity either makes, or breeds, or tolerates all it’s afflictions.” William Arthur Ward
Let us be part of the solution, not the problem. Will you join me?
Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there: