complicity

to go along with something that is wrong; to not interrupt or intervene in the face of injustice

I am a white, cisgender woman. I am straight, married to a white cisgender man, Christian, mom to a white son, middle-class, and well-educated.

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the White Privilege Conference organized by Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., an incredible conference and experience. Glenn Singleton, creator of Courageous Conversation, offered the opening keynote. He directed his talk to white women and to the payments white women like me receive for our complicity in white supremacy and white privilege.

“What payments have you been taking?”

I’ve been pondering this question ever since. How am I complicit in my white privilege? How am I complicit in white supremacy?

There’s the benefit of the doubt afforded me in most every interaction. My smile is frequently met with a return smile. People do not move across the street when they see me coming. When I get a pedicure it is self-care.

I am allowed to make mistakes. My achievements and failures are not credited to all people that appear to look like me.

Other people protect me.

On September 16, 2016, Betty Jo Shelby, a white police woman, shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, to death. On May 17, 2017, a jury failed to find Shelby guilty of murdering Mr. Crutcher.

I can point to this not-guilty verdict as a payment I received for complicity in white supremacy.

If Mr. Crutcher was forced to bear all the prejudice leveled at black men in that one interaction that resulted in his murder, shouldn’t I be forced to bear all the privilege afforded Shelby in that one interaction that preserved her innocence?

Let’s be clear. I am not looking for your forgiveness or your sympathy. I am looking for you to join me in dismantling white supremacy. It won’t be easy. And it certainly won’t be comfortable. Let’s start with one question.

What payments are you taking?


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