Friday, June 19, 2015

#blacklivesmatter: A post on systemic racism and white privilege

Black lives are marginalized in modern history and current events, from Trayvon Martin to Walter Scott to the attacks at a Kenyan university to Ferguson to Eric Garner to the recent pool party arrests in McKinney, TX. I look on facebook and I see people marginalizing one another, taking current events and adding to the hate and fear and refusing to engage in compassion. And I don't know where to start.

Wednesday night, nine black brothers and sisters were taken out of this world by a racially-motivated madman, whom they had welcomed into their church like Jesus asks us to do. Dylann Roof committed mass murder in an historic black church and I don't know where to start.

I don't know where to start.

Maybe I'll start with my privilege.

Because refusing to acknowledge racial privilege allows racial injustice to continue. 

I'm white. Because of the color of my skin, I am at the receiving end of a whole mess of privilege. The unspoken systemic racism that affects my country, and so many others, has never hindered me. People might joke about my name from time to time, that they don't know what color I'm going to be when they meet me, but once this freckled face walks in, that unspoken privilege goes ahead of me again. See this comic representation of white privilege for further reference.

I've never been followed at the mall because I "looked suspicious." I've never had an intrinsic fear of law enforcement. On the contrary, when I see cops on patrol, I'm not afraid. Instead, their presence makes me glad that I live(d) in a country that can support an active police force and other basic infrastructure. Every time I've been pulled over for speeding, I've been reasonably confident that I could pull the "I'm adorable and innocent" card and convince the officer that I really didn't know the speed limit went from 70 mph to 40 mph back there (cue big, surprised eyes and an innocent smile)(true story. don't judge. I really didn't know the speed limit dropped so fast. Texas small towns, you're all speed traps)(And I got off with a warning thanks to the USMC sticker on my SUV).

I've never had to worry that my face or appearance might influence someone in a negative way. I'm one of millions. There's a whole hashtag called #CrimingWhileWhite that exploded in weeks following the Ferguson protests, in which white people showcased their privilege by bragging about crimes they've gotten away with, and the double standard that abounds within the system.

My privilege even allows me to COMPLETELY IGNORE EVERYTHING that has happened lately.

My privilege allows me... my conscience does not.

I know I'm not the only white person who hates racism but isn't sure how to speak up and say it's not ok. Am I going to get all the words right? Probably not. Am I going to offend people? Possibly. Am I going to disagree with people I care about? Unfortunately.

A year ago, Osheta Moore called all of us white bloggers out:

Since I wrote last on racism, privilege, and diversity, I’ve had several white bloggers, most of them happen to live or come from the South say to me, “I really want to talk about this but I don’t think I have the right to, I mean…I’m white”.

To which I say, because you’re white, you need to talk about it.  Because you haven’t had to think about it, you need to think about it now. Because you’re in your homogenous bubble, you need to hear my story as a black woman in America so you can share it with your white, and at times, clueless readers.

The truth is, your voice matters and it has power... Speak up and speak life! Your voice can reverberate across the wounded places of my heart and the echos of your acceptance has to power to heal deep, deep offenses!

Because you are white you need to reject the allure of avoiding the topic altogether... I don’t have that luxury. I engage with the world and my words as a black woman.  I live with the reality that if you and I knew each other during the Jim Crow era, my son could be tortured and murdered for telling your daughter she’s beautiful.  If you ignore this, then I’m sorry….but Honey, I think your privilege is showing.

A blogging call to arms. Empowering? Terrifying? 

I bloggingly responded to Osheta's call by writing this post about Duck Dynasty, which I was too chicken to post on facebook because a lot (a lot) of people that I love love that show and were outraged (outraged) with the way A&E handled Phil's inappropriate comments. I was afraid of their reaction. I was afraid to disagree loudly enough to hurt their feelings, and afraid that they might in turn hurt mine. 

The ugliness of racial injustice flares up all too often. Maybe it's time to stop letting my fear stop words of compassion and truth.


How does one find words to describe what is wrong with the world? Based on my belief in total depravity of mankind, along with the total goodness of God and the fact that we are made in His image, I agree with Dr. King when he said “There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

It is very damaging to play the white privilege card and ignore a very real problem in society, especially a problem that we can fix. A problem that these recent cases and protests and tragedies have brought back to our newsfeeds and attention. I'll stand with brothers and sisters around the world, saying that 1) there is still systemic, institutionalized racism in the United States, 2) unequal treatment of people of color is real and 3) white privilege is real.

It is 2015. Why is this still a thing? Humans. Humans, you make me so angry with your proclivity to marginalize different people groups throughout human history as if they were this distant, distinct "other," something to be feared only because it is different and unknown.

Why is it that parents of black children have to sit down and have this conversation?

Photo Cred

I wish I had a brilliant argument or conclusion to this narrative, but I don't. How can I when the problem is vast and continuous? At this point, there isn't a conclusion, but there can be compassion, support for the black community, and a striving for understanding.

So to my black friends, whether you're in the African-American, Caribbean-American, African, Biracial, Colorful, or other Delightful community. I am with you. I am listening. I won't pretend white privilege doesn't exist.

And to my white friends, talk about it. Read about it. Acknowledge that white privilege exists and be honest that you unintentionally benefit from something you don't have any control over. Pretending it doesn't exist doesn't make it go away.

Suggested reading:

Oh, Honey! Come Here, I Think Your Privilege Is Showing

White privilege, and what we’re supposed to do about it

A Letter from a White South African to White Americans

What I want you to know about being a young black man in America.

These Are The Victims Of The Charleston Church Shooting

Half of American whites see no racism around them

Changing The Narrative 

To my white male Facebook friends

After A Traffic Stop, Teen Was 'Almost Another Dead Black Male'

Walter Scott, A Black Man, Was Shot To Death — But My White Husband, Also Walter Scott, Is Safe And Sound

5 images about being black in America shared after Walter Scott shooting

The Perfect-Victim Pitfall

Finding justice for Trayvon: seven actions steps for our outrage

Edited to add :

Lecrae Op-Ed: Charleston Shooting Comes From Deeply Rooted Racism & Injustice

An Emotional Jon Stewart Drops the Comedy to Talk Charleston: ‘We Still Won’t Do Jackshit’


  1. Very random I know, but I've been doing research on teaching in Korea and I don't even remember how I came across your blog, but I am glad I did. It's always a breath of fresh air to find someone who is aware of social issues. Thank you for using your platform to speak out, and I hope your life is going well right now! :-) I'll be revisiting for tips and tricks as I get ready to travel to Korea. Thank you!!

    1. Thank you for this comment! I somehow didn't see this til now. I hope your plans to move to Korea have been progressing nicely! It's one of the best decisions I ever made.