My Wish For You

It never ceases to amaze me.

From the time OUR young people hit puberty, brown and black youth face unsolicited feedback from the environment. It’s anything from the I-don’t-see-you face, to one of suspicion and harsh scrutiny.

Bosses go on vacation and tell staff “don’t hire any black people” for vacant positions. That is a true recent story. Luckily my young friend hired the best applicant anyway (coincidentally black). But how common is that noble demonstration of character? Yet, no one is racist and no, we don’t live in a white supremacist society

A white woman walks into a clothing store behind a young black mother buying their toddler’s very first pair of shoes. The salesperson ignores the mother. The white woman gets approached first. “May I help you?” This woman’s response? “Yes, you can HELP HER. But no one is racist and we don’t live in a white supremacist society

This, kind of micro-aggression goes on 24/7. It can be so much worse than that. At best, in place of casual friendliness, there is a constant drip drip drip of negative, fearful, hostile or zero feedback from the environment, resulting in a constant chipping away at a healthy life force. It either weakens or steels the heart, if not the soul. But no one is racist and we don’t live in a white supremacist society

As everyone knows, the only socially acceptable response from a person of color, when at the brunt end of this kind of treatment is: NO response. Zero. Politely pretend not to notice. Anything else and you become THE ignorant angry black person. Why, you’re making a scene! But no one is racist and we don’t live in a white supremacist society.

How about if a non-POC, points this out – even to “FRIENDS”? After friends recover from the first uncomfortable dialogue, that person soon enough finds themselves relegated to the “careful, gotta walk on eggshells with them” category – “too interested in politics”,  or “too sensitive”, “takes it too personally”. My wish on the magic lantern is that every white person would be like that white guy who was meeting those two fellows for a business meeting in Starbucks. “What the hell is going on??” And notably, what did those two men ask for?
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“Robinson and Nelson also settled with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a pledge that the city will create a $200,000 program for public high-school students who aspire to be entrepreneurs.” 

“We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” Robinson told the Associated Press. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”

Here is what amazes me. Among even the most kindly, well-intended white people, there is a jagged stone wall of resistance, up against even considering and discussing the obvious benefits of white privilege, over a lifetime. The reason cited most often in my world is, “Well, we all have serious problems. Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled, had it hard, encountered much unfairness.”

Yes, life is hard for lots of us. So somehow, it follows that there isn’t much interest in pondering on how to support or listen to brothers and sisters who live side by side in our communities facing these invisible barriers and ever-present fears, on top of everything else.

You see, I’ve come to notice that as white people, we are the objective ones. We understand everything. We have the true perspective. We know. We have nothing to learn from our brown and black brethren. We explain to THEM how to feel and how to perceive their encounters. And we are offended when that doesn’t quite work out to our satisfaction.

Yet somehow, NO ONE IS RACIST. I have never met a racist. I HAVE met a homophobe and many transphobes. Because they distort the Bible to back themselves up, so they try to defend hate against love. Imagine!

With the exception of white people who are centering their lives on this situation, to this day, I have not met any white person who will admit that our society is still structured on white supremacy. Not a liberal, not a conservative. It seems the way it goes is, “If I haven’t experienced it, in my heart of hearts, I just don’t believe it. They are exaggerating, misunderstanding, dramatizing.”

Laws MUST be put in place and laws must stay in place, and be enforced to protect EVERYONE in our society, for that very reason. You see, no one is doing it. No one. YET, IT IS DONE.

Even though science has established that there is no such thing as race, most still have a tribe that extends past families, and most cling to this as a primary identity.

Yet, in my experience, it is only by living and loving each other, ignoring that imaginary race barrier, that we understand the truth of our shared humanity, in our guts, our minds and in our hearts. Without knowing each other, and knowing each other WELL, it’s very hard to get past society’s walls.

Still, there are those of us to whom destiny calls, to create or be born or be parented and nurtured in families that ignore these cautions and barriers. Beyond the walls, we find a rich and beautiful tapestry, a depth of understanding, and lots of love. It’s love that by it’s very nature, extends out to all peoples of the world.

That is my wish for you. May you continue to expand your circle of love, increase your wisdom, and reap your joy. I will be right there with you.

 

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