I am a white, middle class, christian, American woman. I have watched and listened the past couple of weeks as people have demanded to be seen and heard. I have remained quiet.
I have not remained quiet because I do not believe black lives matter.
I have not remained quiet because I believe our police force is corrupt and racist.
I have been quiet because I need to listen.
I grew up in a very small town in Central New York. I graduated with a class of 76 students in a public school. We could name the non white students in our 7th-12th grade building because everyone knew everyone, and there were less than ten students in our building that didn’t look just like me.
I only heard rumblings once or twice of any racist remarks being made to my classmates, and it was something people were upset about. It was not condoned or applauded. I didn’t think racism on a broad scale existed.
I went to a small christian liberal arts university in Springfield, MO. I had friends of color. They didn’t tell me about experiencing racism. It didn’t come up. I have a brother-in-law, nieces, a nephew, and cousins that are black. It never occurred to me that their experiences have been much different than my own.
I am not racist, my friends and my family are not racist, so I have thought racism was not a problem.
The past couple of weeks, I have read articles, watched video clips, and viewed many people’s posts and opinions on recent events, and I have remained quiet.
I observed shootings that have struck me us unjust losses of life, yet I am not convinced the police actions were due to racist beliefs…. nor am I certain they were not. I am certain that if the actions taken were due to racism, not all police are racist.
The numbers and the statistics on police shootings have been presented 50 different ways to demonstrate both that police are shooting blacks and whites in a manner that it is disproportionate to the population statistics and that is proportionate to the violence and threats of each racial grouping. I can not say for certain if our police forces are dealing justly with all races. I can only say I hope they are. So, I have remained quiet.
I have observed protests of individuals demanding justice and a voice. I have seen people passionately and eloquently argue a change needs to occur, and I have seen others act in a manner that can only be causing a greater problem. I have not been able to fully understand, and I have remained quiet.
I have been quiet because I grew up sheltered and privileged.
I do not apologize for my whiteness. I do not apologize for my privilege. It was not my decision. Just because I do not apologize for these things it does not mean I defend or condone those who may treat black life with contempt or disregard. I have not been exposed to this treatment, and I cannot speak to its level of existence.
I have been quiet because I recognize my lack of understanding in a situation that needs understanding.
I have remained quiet because I need to hear the voices of those who feel they have not been heard.
I have remained quiet because black lives matter, and I want to learn how I can be a part of the solution to the problem I have not experienced.
I cannot learn or understand if I am busy defending my lack of racism and assuming it is true for all whites and all systems. Just because I do not see it or because I am not quick to believe we are a society bent on keeping one people down does not mean it is my turn to speak.
Please forgive me if you want to talk about these current events and I do not bring much to the conversation. I have been represented by a dominate voice for my entire life. My lack of exposure has led to a lack of understanding, so it is my turn to listen.
If your voice has gone unheard, I am willing to listen. Please give me time to be quiet and learn.