It has been a couple of days and I still don’t really know what to say about the horrifying display of racism – of domestic terrorism – in Charlottesville over the weekend. Yesterday I chose to share an offering of love – both because I had no words for what happened, and because I know sometimes it helps us to have something beautiful and loving in our “news feed”.
So many thoughts went through my mind seeing those images of angry, white men (and a few token women) carrying torches and yelling words of hate.
I thought about my own children, and how terrifying it would be to know, without a shadow of a doubt, fellow Americans angrily and violently oppose my family’s very existence in this country.
My white friends, can you even imagine how this feels?
How does it make you feel to know that imagining it is likely the closest you’ll ever come to this kind of blind hate?
Are you relieved?
How privileged we are, indeed.
We sat down to have lunch in this lovely restaurant on the water, and our waitress happened to be black. Now, I am always kind to wait staff at restaurants, having once had that job (and well, just being a kind person in general).
Today though, I found myself completely over-compensating for the actions of my race….over lunch. I was falling all over our waitress with kindness, as if I could make it up to her, somehow. I gave her a ridiculously disproportionate tip (later feeling embarrassed by my motivation for that).
Really, Bethany? Is an extra $20 going to make up for feeling terrified in one’s own country?
The truth is I felt ashamed. I wanted to say to her, “I am so sorry. I am sorry that I’ve been in denial about the pure hate that exists toward you – hate from complete strangers – simply because of the color of your skin. I’m ashamed that I am linked to them, purely because of the color of mine. Forgive me.”
I used to think it was impolite, or not politically correct, to even notice the color of a person’s skin…that we should be “color blind.” I am finally understanding that too is white privilege.
So what now?
What now that we can’t pretend?
All I have to offer in the way of an answer is to be present.
To call out racism and discrimination when we see it.
To teach our children in the most effective way possible…by letting them watch us BE good and DO good in the world.
Although discrimination against the LGBT community hits closer to home (or hits home rather directly) for my family, my children need to learn to recognize discrimination and hate of any sort…toward anyone.
I am discouraged, but determined.
Hate will not win.
Love will prevail.