Confessions: Confronting My Privilege
Things change in a moment's notice. I had planned to post an incredibly eloquent feminist post in honor of sexual assault awareness month last month (I am always running late; just another random confession.) But, then another name was added to an on-going list of defenseless black people killed by those in power.
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Sandra Bland. Ahmaud Arbery. Eric Garner. Sean Reed. Tamir Rice. Oscar Grant. Michael Brown. Stephon Clark. Dante Parker. Walter Scott. Anthony Baez. Philando Castile. Samuel Dubose.
Names are powerful. And each death, including all the ones not included on this list, bears a name, a soul. Each person should still be breathing in the spring air flowing through my windows and entering deep into my lungs. Instead, all I can hear are these words echoing off the walls: I. Can't. Breathe.
Breathing is the first thing we do when we enter into this world. We leave our mothers' wombs and are thrust into an often brutal world. We open our mouths, suck in the stale air and smell of a hospital room as we announce our entrance into the world.
None of us get to choose the hand we were dealt after that first breath. None of us choose our skin color, our parents, our economic status, our heritage, or anything else for that matter. But we all breathe. It is the most human function. So human, that each person takes over 24,000 breaths per day. Until they don't.
I. Can't. Breathe.
My white skin gives me privilege in the world that my brown and black skinned friends and family do not possess. I have never feared losing my life at a routine traffic stop. I have never worried about anyone wishing me harm or calling me egregious names because of my skin color.
I used to stay silent about my beliefs surrounding these issues. I was always angry. I was always alarmed and saddened by the brutality and lack of care for human life. But, I didn't want to say anything that would offend people who held different opinions or beliefs. I didn't want the backlash of anger or to deal with the stupidity of "all lives matter" that was sure to come my way. And that is my privilege. My privilege allowed me to stay silent. But "not being racist" just isn't enough anymore.
Too many people without my privilege have suffered from my silence and the silence of people "not wanting to cause any trouble".
So, I confess and ask for forgiveness. Forgive me for the things I have done and have left undone. Forgive me for not using my voice to make space for yours'. Forgive me for not understanding the fear you live in every day. Forgive me for not understanding your worry about your sons and daughters becoming men and women who always have a target on their backs and eyes following them wherever they go.
I do not have any way to justify what I have not said or done in the past, but I do know I will listen more. I will fight alongside you more. I will not stand idly on the sidelines anymore. Because everyone, EVERYONE deserves the right to breathe.