I Know I Don’t Understand

I’ll never get it.  I know I won’t.  I am a privileged white girl.

I’ve always assumed, since we are decades past the civil rights movement, that people in America had equal rights, regardless of their skin color.  Here we are in 2014.  Haven’t we learned yet that color has nothing to do with anything?  That is has nothing to do with personhood, intelligence, work ethic, rights.

I’d hear verdicts come down finding white people not guilty in trials about their brutality against African Americans and assumed they must be innocent.  There must have been a reason the officer, or anyone, did something.  The person they were accused of killing must have provoked the attack somehow.  I, in no way, ever thought the deaths were justified or okay, but I did assume there must be extenuating circumstances.  We the public must not know something key that would make what had happened easier to understand.

There was no way I could comprehend the attacks or actions against people of color were BECAUSE they were people of color.

I’d look at riots happening and assume people just didn’t understand.  That they should stop because they are just making matters worse for themselves.  I didn’t see it as civil unrest, I saw it as really poor choices.

Lately, my thinking has begun to change.  I still don’t understand it all.  I don’t know what to do with my thoughts and feelings.  But something must be wrong.  Something must be systemically wrong.  There are too many deaths of young Black men being killed in the course of an arrest or while in pursuit.  The stories coming out about what these men are being questioned about or the reason they are stopped, just keep piling up, and leave me unable to assume everything is being done correctly, that everything is being done appropriately for a color blind world.

It just doesn’t seem like things are as color blind as they should be.  Going back hundreds of years, it is not as color blind as it should be.  I know I can not go back and undo slavery.  I can’t even comprehend it.

I was talking to Caitlyn about it the other day.  I could not even believe what was coming out of my mouth as I explained to my 8 year old that it used to be acceptable to OWN another person.  It does not make sense to me now.  How did it EVER make sense to the slave owners?  How does it make sense today to the slave owners around the world?  How does someone truly believe that based on the color of their skin, where they were born, or who their parents were they can either be owned or own another person.

My 8 year old understands that you can’t own another person.  Why can’t people through the ages or today understand this is absolutely incomprehensible?

And beyond slavery, how does it make sense, that African American mamas have to be afraid for their sons?  I understand there are bad areas, for any number of reasons, and that all mothers at one time or another fear for their children, but it sure as heck shouldn’t be every day, in a nice quiet suburban neighborhood.  And yet, what I hear from people I know, they are afraid.  Every day.  For their sons.  For themselves.  Afraid of assumptions being made and horrible acts being carried out based on those erroneous opinions.

That kind of fear is completely foreign to me.  And yet I know it is real.  I have learned of it from women I know and trust. I find myself wanting to ask the wonderful mamas and ladies I see every day, are you afraid for your boys?  Are you afraid they will be wrongly accused and justice will be carried out cowboy style?

I want to ask, partly because it is such an incomprehensible feeling to me.  I am afraid of things for my girls.  I am afraid of them meeting a sexual predator.  I am afraid of them being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting hurt.  But I am not afraid of the police or others in power being a threat to them.  I want to ask because I want them to say “no, I don’t have that fear here.”  I want to hear that my community is different.  That my village is mature enough to look at people, not skin pigmentation.  I want to ask because I want them to look at me like I am crazy and so, “No, I get to be a mama just like you.  I can teach my children that those in authority will protect them.”

I don’t ask.  I don’t ask because it is probably not my place to ask such things.  I don’t ask because I don’t want to hear that where I live is just as twisted and stupid as those “other” places.  I want to live in a beautiful utopia.  I don’t ask because I don’t want to bear any more guilt that I am privileged.  I don’t want to feel anymore guilty that my girls have it easier.  I don’t want to feel any more guilty that my motherhood is easier.  I want to believe we are all just mamas, wanting the best for our kids without fear of being judged based on race.

Honestly, how does anyone go to sleep at night thinking what they have done to someone based on them being the wrong color is okay?  How did it compute to our founding fathers to count black people as partial people for population purposes?  How does it make sense today to the police office shooting someone because they are wearing a hoodie?

How does this, or any other judgement, make sense?

Survive til you Thrive!

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