I’m getting sick and tired of films portraying poor black boys being saved by well meaning white families. The stories we choose to tell inform the way we look at the world around us. There are stories of black folks not failing, of black communities helping pull themselves out of misfortune. Why aren’t we telling these stories???
The problem, as I see it, with a lot of the discourse regarding race in America, especially amongst white folks of the libertarian or conservative persuasion, is an assumption of an even playing field. An assumption rooted in our subjective experience of reality. We rely, too often, on the kind of anecdotal, personal experience sort of reasoning that confuses demographic based assumptions with scientific truth. This is the same kind of thinking, if you can call it that, that in the 1950s & 60s led southern segregationists to say things like, “if it weren’t them carpetbaggers our niggers would be perfectly happy…” As if because they had no direct experience of discontent amongst black folks that it must be a construct created by an external entity. Just because one is ignorant of opinions and experiences other than their own does not mean that there aren’t any to be found. A blind man seeing the sky as darkness does not make it so. What we need to do is trust, to trust that if someone tells us, with sincerity and conviction, that they have experiences that are different from our own that maybe these experiences are valid. Christopher Columbus sailed west, thus validating that the world wasn’t, in fact, flat. This validation was, however, dependent upon the rest of the hitherto previously known world, believing his assertion, or at least having the faith to see for themselves. This what I ask of those who refuse to accept that life, for those of color, is different, in substance, from their own. To take the time and have the faith to learn from those who experience the world differently. Speak with them, spend time with them, learn about their lives; you may find that they have much to teach you. That in this acquired knowledge is the key to a whole new world, full of a bounty of riches that you cannot currently imagine. The difference between a world of segregation, subjugation and ignorance and a world of equality and brotherhood is night and day but the distance is merely a moment. The moment between the darkness of ignorance and the bright clarity of enlightenment.
I am white. I will never understand what oppression is like. I will never be subjected to systematic racism. I will never be gunned down simply for being alive. I will never fully understand.
But I WILL add my voice to those already crying out. I WILL stand with them. I WILL do everything I can to help change the world we live in.
I am white. But I will not be silent.