Every morning, I have a handful of seconds before I remember the world that I’m waking up in.

I used to be able to roll over, grab my phone, and spend my first moments giggling at silly memes and charming pet videos. I would scroll through my FB feed, check my friends' updates, and while the world wasn’t in great shape to begin with, I never had to contend with this new kind of fear.

I’m not just talking about Covid-19, people refusing to wear masks or practice social distancing. I’m not just talking about what we’re all facing to some degree.

I’m talking about the lives of my black brothers and sisters.

As a white woman, I’m not sure how good of an ally I’ve been to the black community. I must confess, I used to have friends who were overtly racist, and any suggestion that casual racism should be condemned was often met with offense. I was “overreacting,” “too sensitive.” Sometimes, as a result of standing up for what I knew was right, it would cause even worse behavior from those “friends.” They would purposely try to slide subtle racist stereotypes into conversation just to make me react, or to “test” me. I started to wonder if I was making the problem worse. By simply asking someone not to tell that joke or to stop saying the N-word, they would go out of their way to do it more, and dug their heels further into their original prejudice.

Another reason I am critical of my advocacy is something that Dr. Kate Browne, a Body Positivity activist I follow online captured brilliantly. She said she’s been afraid that she would say the wrong thing, and as a white woman in the same privileged position, I confess I have also felt this way.

But there’s a major problem if we allow our fear of being wrong or making a mistake keep us silent. The problem is that white people aren’t listening to black voices. Their hearts don’t break listening to a man cry out on the pavement as a police officer’s knee suffocates him. Instead, white people are calling the cops, feigning fear for their life, because a black man embarrassed them, or corrected them.

I already pointed out that white people may not listen to other white people either, but if someone disagrees with me, I know I’m not going to get shot. I know nobody is likely to start a physical altercation, or call the cops. I also know that if they did call the cops on me, I’m at far less risk than someone black. White people go into government building with assault rifles to protest their loss of privilege, and nothing happens, yet black people protest and riot due to a history of lives lost at the hands of police brutality and systemic racism and they’re told they should take the high road — because THAT kind of violence is unacceptable. Black desperation is unacceptable. Anything less than a forgiving and detached attitude is twisted and used to further a racist narrative — that black people are responsible for their own troubles, that angry reactions are further evidence that black people bring it on themselves.

White privilege is something I have. It’s time that white people acknowledge what that means. It means even if you struggle, even if you are vulnerable in a myriad of other ways, the color of our skin isn’t one of those things. I may get anxious getting pulled over, but I never expect to get killed. That’s white privilege.

I write this because my heart is so heavy. Every day, a new life to mourn. Even in my field as a PCA, the discrimination is obvious. The Essential workers being touted as heroes in our field are also some of the most vulnerable, and predominantly black, brown, and female workers. Nursing homes being ravaged by Covid-19 could have been prevented, but nobody cares about those lives. This pandemic has highlighted how those positions are so important that they’re considered essential, but those lives are not.

I can’t live in a world where these tragedies are allowed to happen. I can’t be a part of that. I can’t try to block it out, because that’s a privilege that those who have been victimized do not have.

In short, I’m going to be that annoying white woman who gets offended by racist comments. I’m going to be that white person who is vocal that Black Lives Matter. I’m going to respond like someone who has no choice but to protest how black people are treated in our society, because as far as I’m concerned we don’t have that choice anymore. And I’m going to check my own biases, because I know that in my safe little corner of the world, there’s a lot I need to learn.

I encourage everyone else to do the same - especially white people- because lives depend on it.

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