I can’t hide the fact that I’m white, but sometimes I wish I could. I wish I could deny my white privilege, but I can’t do that either. I just walk around feeling like the enemy. The recent events regarding police brutality have begun to affect me more than I ever thought they would.
I tried as hard as I could to ignore the Michael Brown incident, the Eric Garner incident, and the most recent Tamir Rice incident. I won’t lie; I willingly entered into the realm of cognitive dissonance. I used my “whiteness” as a tool so I didn’t have to care. I know how terrible that sounds, but I’m just being honest. However, the harder I tried to ignore the riots and the court hearings the more I felt like a hollow cast of a human being. I was trying so hard not to care that I had begun to lose my humanity.
The first time I met my best friend the only thing that came to my mind was “black.” Not her kindness or her intelligence, or her leadership, but the fact that she was black. It took me over a year of living with her and seeing her everyday not to see her just as “black.”
The other night I came home and saw her in tears, her swollen eyes glued to the T.V., which just repeated the outcome of the Eric Garner case. It was at that moment I knew I couldn’t sit back anymore. I couldn’t let her fight this fight alone. I knew what was happening was wrong, but what could I do? I am a white 20-year old living in Laramie, WY. I’m the enemy, I’m the one at fault right? Wrong. I may be white, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to help, because I do.
For those of you who feel as if it is not your place to help because you’re white, join the club. But it’s not just the black community’s responsibility to fight this. We are allies. We are husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, best friends, teammates, peers and professors of these people. It’s our fight because it’s everyone’s fight.
For those of you who believe that what is happening is justified, where is your humanity? Black people are just as human as you are, they have hearts that beat, ten fingers and toes and share many of the same dreams and goals as the rest of the American population. When did it become such an inconvenience to care about our fellow man (and woman)? Some may say that they deserve it. Deserve what? To be racially stereotyped as criminals? Thus, making them open to police brutality?
Also, take a minute to reflect upon the fact that according to fbi.gove, out of the 30 offenses documented on the site in 2011, only three of them were committed by more black people than white. These included: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, robber, and gambling. Out of 9.5 million offenses committed, black people executed only 28% of them. So the assumption that the black community is wreaking havoc across the United States is false, because a majority of the havoc is being caused by white. Additionally, according to naacp.org, blacks are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of white. Although statistically speaking 68% of serious offenses are committed by white, the incarceration rate is much lower indicating that somewhere along the line the numbers don’t quite add up.
America boasts as being a nation driven by Christian values. But I fail to see these values used within the most basic realm of everyday life: compassion. Blacks in our society are usually placed into two categories: criminals and athletes. It’s time they are put in a third category: human beings.
Previously published in The Branding Iron