To People of Color, from a White Woman
I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry. I feel sad and angry and confused and helpless. All the things coming out of the news lately, and all the other stories I don’t hear about regarding these injustices against people of color. In 2017. In the United States of America. I want to do something. I cry. I get angry. I pray. I vote. I talk to friends.
But you know who I haven’t talked to — any of my black friends. I want to, but I’m scared. I am scared of saying the wrong thing. I’m scared to ask their thoughts because I don’t want them to think I assume they speak for all African Americans. I don’t want people to assume I’m interfering in something I have no business getting involved in. I want to be an ally. I want to offer support and understanding. I want to know what else I can do. But I fear so much that I will do or say the wrong thing, I end up doing very little.
My heart breaks, and I write this through tears when I think about Alton Brown, Philando Castile, Charleena Lyles, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and the countless other victims, and the lack of justice for their killers. I want to stand up for them, but will I, unwittingly, hinder the progress? Offend the very people who are on my mind and in my heart? Take something away from the conversation? I am even worried that publishing this, and adding my voice, will somehow be misunderstood. To anyone who happens upon this, please know, my intentions are good.
Black lives matter. We shouldn’t have to say that. We should all know that and our society should reflect that black lives do, in fact, matter. But when black 12-year-olds are shot and killed by police for having a toy gun and white prison escapees literally shoot at police yet are apprehended alive, it appears that black lives don’t actually matter all that much to law enforcement (in general. Yes, there are great cops; pointing out the bad ones does not take away from the good ones).
When a black man gets shot in broad daylight, in front of his fiancé and his four-year-old daughter- a man who had done nothing wrong, a man who complied with the officer’s requests…when he gets killed and his murderer is walking free, we cannot say that our society as a whole believes black lives matter. I don’t like these arguments, but can we, for a moment, imagine a black police officer shot a white man under the same circumstances? Do we not think there would be more outrage, and more punishment for the police officer?
My attempts to talk on message boards and social media haven’t amounted to much, so I’m putting it out to the blogosphere. What else can I do? How can I be a good ally? A good support? How can I help without overstepping? I’m listening. I’m learning. I’m trying.