DEAR WHITE FRIENDS,
I have spent a lot of time recently having conversations about why Nazis are bad with people who identify as being conservative, on the right, or who call themselves moderates, who think that people on the left who protest (sometimes violently) are equally as bad as Nazis.
I’ve done my best to explain that when Nazis gather, it’s to threaten the EXISTENCE of people who aren’t like them. When marginalized people become violent during protest, it’s in response to an amount of (sometimes generations of) hurt and fear that is LITERALLY a fight or flight response to what feels like a threat on their LIVES or the LIVES of people they care about.
Had the Jews or their allies violently fought back during the Holocaust against their extermination, would people have been saying, “Well, violence on ‘the many sides’ is unacceptable”? Hell no! Why? Because everyone knows that Nazi ideology is of hate and bigotry that seeks to exterminate people not like them.
The comparison of “liberal left protestors” to Nazis is unfair, but then again, SO IS RACISM. And at the heart of these conversations, that’s really what it boils down to: Blindness to systemic racism.
Each conversation eventually comes around to the person saying something to the effect of racism being an excuse and white privilege not being real because they themselves don’t benefit from white privilege (despite being white). Therefore everyone else should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps as well, and never be anything but peaceful to boot!
So, here are my thoughts on people choosing not to acknowledge their white privilege. These words are taken directly from a reply to someone who doesn’t see how they benefit from white privilege, because their life has been one of struggle and hard work to offset their trials.
Ah, and there it is. You think that because you didn’t have a privileged life that you don’t benefit from white privilege. (Really, most people don’t have a privileged life regardless of color. I grew up on government cheese raised mostly by one parent, too, but I acknowledge that if I were anything but white my life would have been harder.)
If you don’t think white privilege exists, congratulations, you are enjoying the benefits of it.
Let me break it down for you as best I can:
- Because you’re white, you likely don’t get followed in the store.
- Because you’re white, people aren’t surprised if you make an intelligent sounding statement.
- Because you’re white, you’ve been able to see yourself reflected positively in movie leads, on TV, in books, in music, etc. your ENTIRE life…. Just ponder for a few minutes on how your struggles growing up might have been a little harder if the VAST MAJORITY of media representations you saw of yourself portrayed people like you in a negative way.
- Because you’re white, you can take $100 bill into the bank without someone wondering if you got it by some shady means.
- Because you’re white, you can wear and act however you want without being labeled a thug.
- Because you’re white, you and your children are LESS likely to go to prison for a crime you didn’t (or even did) commit.
- Because you’re white, you don’t have to worry about being racially profiled (sometimes leading to being KILLED) by police.
- Because you’re white, you get the privilege of being able to LIVE without being unaware of or constantly reminded of your skin color.
Now. For the love of all that is holy, WATCH the documentary “13th” AND THEN let’s chat. Until you choose to get a little uncomfortable and take off your blinders, conversations like this are like me trying to explain to a blind person that the sky is blue. You can’t see it, but you’re going to argue with me that it’s not anyway. Learn how to see the sky and THEN we can talk about what shade of blue it is.
Here are a couple of links that may help you see things in a new light.
I could have gone on and on, but honestly, if I can’t get my point across with those few words, it’s not going to get across with a novel.
I understand that having conversations around racism is hard. I understand that learning to see systemic racism and how we white folks benefit from it is uncomfortable. But white friends, the time has seriously come and gone for us to get a little uncomfortable. We have modern day Nazis gathering in large groups in the U.S.A.
It’s time to lean in to the discomfort. It’s time to LISTEN! It’s time to SEE! It’s time to SPEAK OUT against hate, racism, homophobia, transphobia and even apathy EVERY TIME YOU SEE THEM! It’s time to BE Love!