In the year 2018 racial tensions are continually a problem for the country and our society. Each day we see unarmed Black Americans killed by police officers. We hear stories like Sandra Bland’s of Black women getting ripped from their car and dying in police custody. These stories are disturbing and eye-opening.
The Black Lives Matter movement has permeated today’s race conversation — and that’s a good thing. They’ve confronted the country and our policing system about the inherent racism that is prevalent in our society. Still, many White Americans refuse to believe the idea of white privilege and systematic oppression.
Before activists like DeRay McKesson and Rev. Al Sharpton led marches on Capitol Hill and mass demonstrations in Ferguson, the white conversation about race sounded different. Instead of talking about the names of innocent slain black men and women, the white conversation focused on their justification of why they aren’t racist. Everyone is scared being labeled a racist — Except me.
I had an event to attend in Philadelphia. I live right near a train station that heads into the city. Instead of driving I decided to take the train. I’ve only done this a few times, so I’m unfamiliar with the Suburban station.
When I arrived in the city and got off the train I became very nervous. The station was filled with a lot of black homeless men and women. I genuinely felt scared for my life as I passed through the station. However, I wasn’t killed or even harassed. I was ignored.
After my event, I headed back to the train station. This time the station was empty and dark. The only people inside were the same homeless people. They where sitting on the station benches huddled up in blankets to stay warm. A few of them where singing for pocket change.
I had missed my train. Not only was I scared to death in this train station, but now I was forced to wait an hour for my next train. While waiting, I made several observations.
Looking around the station, one can realize that the vast majority of these homeless people were black men. Many of them fit the stereotypical ‘thug’ profile that the media has imprinted on white brains.
As my nervousness subsided, I asked myself many questions. Where are all the White homeless people? Is this why I’m nervous? Is being one of the only white people around this station scaring me? Am I racially profiling these homeless people? How would I act if these homeless people were white?
I came to a conclusion that hurt. I indeed was being racist and racially discriminating against these homeless people.While waiting for my train, I took the time to unpack my discovery.
The media has essentially brainwashed white people. They’ve twisted and distorted the narrative about black people. They’ve trained us to be scared of tall, strong black men. The media has made them thugs. They aren’t thugs. They are people.
In a world where white people are afraid to be called racist, my assertion may raise eye brow, especially considering my support and active involvement the Black Lives Matter Movement and in ending the mass incarceration.
“Why would some white kid want to be called racist,” you may ask. I want to confront my privilege and work towards progress. Racism is a white people problem. Systematic racism and oppression cannot end unless the privileged group takes a stand. I’m not concerned about my reputation. I’m not scared to check my white privilege. I’m asking you to call yourself a racist.
I’m not trying to alienate myself, but it’s important to check privilege. It is important to realize that as a country we are continually making it harder for blacks to live the American dream.
I’ve realized that I’m a racist. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s certainly not something to be scared of. Instead of being scared of white privilege and racism, we need to understand it.
White people need to understand the we live in a society that values white lives (especially white cisgender male lives) to a higher standard. We need to pay attention to our privilege and continually work to give Blacks the same opportunities as Whites.
What does that mean? It means ending the epidemic of Police violence and brutality against Black Americans. It means taking a stand against the mass incarceration of Black men. It means protecting our queer women of color who are stabbed in the streets.
As white people, we are the ones who are responsible. It’s not the black community’s responsibility to educate us and change policy. We have the privilege to make change.
I’m a racist. I’m not proud, but I’m not scared. I’m fighting to make a difference and lift up my black brothers and sisters.
That’s why I’m taking a stand. Join me. Use #ImARacist on twitter and Facebook to talk about your experience of white privilege and how we as white people can make use of privilege for good. Let’s use our privilege for good.