I feel ashamed to be a white woman in America today. I am grieved. I am angry. The injustices and inequities that prevail in our culture are intolerable. In the last few months, weeks, days this is more apparent than ever. We’ve seen a police officer (his hand in his pocket) cavalierly cut off the windpipe of George Floyd, a black man, with his knee and murder him during an arrest. Yet the officers involved have not been arrested themselves. Two white men chase down and murder Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger, and walk free for months. A white woman calls the police and says she’s being threatened because an avid birder, who happened to be black, asked her to follow the park’s rules and put her dog on a leash. White men can carry semi-automatic rifles at their state capitol to protest “stay at home” orders and it’s just another day in the life.
Why isn’t everyone outraged? This has to stop. What can I do as a privileged, white woman? I can acknowledge that privilege and use it to speak out and advocate for those who are subjected to systemic racism, outright hatred and apathy toward others simply because they were born with a darker skin tone. Twitter was flooded with angry, self-righteous comments when a football player peacefully demonstrated for change by taking a knee during the national anthem. They passionately argued it was disrespectful to those soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom. The very soldiers who gave their lives so that we could peacefully demonstrate when our citizens aren’t all free. They aren’t free to jog in a neighborhood and stop at a construction site out of curiousity or free to bird watch without fear for their lives. How is the symbol of American freedom more important than the freedom of all our citizens, than the lives of all our citizens? Everyone should be taking a knee during the national anthem until these horrors are addressed.
I can do that by supporting and voting for candidates that promote unity, equity, tolerance and kindness. I can do that by speaking up when I see injustice in my every day life. But, I know I can do more. I am called to do more. I am excited and priveledged to be taking Diana Patton’s Pivot and Rise Mastermind course that starts Saturday. I will be learning more about advocacy and what that means. You will definitely be hearing more about that in the coming weeks.
I need to do more. So do you.
Note: I posted a link to this post to my social media feeds that opened some good dialog and wanted to add some notes to expand my thoughts.
Where does my sense of shame come from? It comes from being associated with a race and culture that has historically and is currently involved with enslaving people, putting them in internment camps, putting them in cages, discriminating against people that look, pray and love differently that makes me feel that shame. Mostly, though it come from being ashamed of myself for letting fear prevent me from speaking up sooner, louder, and more often.
Also I did not mean to place judgement on people who choose not to take a knee during the national anthem. I understand that there are those who have lost family members for those fighting for our freedom. What I was trying to articulate was that others doing so does NOT mean they are being disrespectful of the flag, or the service men and women who fought for American freedom. Rather, if those who feel it is disrepectful for themselves to make this gesture to not judge others or project their values onto others, who do feel this act of demonstration is a way to show solidarity as the flag does not mean “justice for all” and it making people aware of that fact instead of pretending that it does. I do not think peacefully kneeling before the flag, as you would in prayer, can be perceived as being unkind. Wielding guns at protests, name calling, waving confederate flags and swastikas, and senseless violence are all soundly in the unkind camp. Kneeling during the anthem makes people uncomfortable, but I don’t see that as an act of unkindness. I fully believe kindness towards others is the path to change. Shying from something because you or someone else might feel discomfort does not affect change. We should be uncomfortable until all Americans are treated with dignity, respect, empathy and equity.