I’m so sad. I don’t know what to do. I feel dis-empowered, as if nothing I say or do can affect the racism and hate in humanity.
I had a friend tell me today not to waste my energy being sad. He said I should talk about my experiences as a white woman. I told him that nobody was interested in my perspective on this. What did I possibly have to contribute? I am nobody. My experience is in no way parallel to George Floyd’s. Aside from listening and learning about how to be a better ally all I can do is try to relate–I know I will never fully understand.
As a white woman I don’t understand the hatred. I don’t understand the entitlement. I don’t understand how a white man with a gun can feel so small that he has to crush the life out of a black man with his fear. I don’t understand how others can stand by and watch this. I don’t understand how the brotherhood of police support each other past the point of reason and accountability. Brothers should hold each other accountable, should say, “you’re better than that and I refuse to allow you to sink so low.” I don’t understand how this can go on and on for centuries when we know better.
As a white woman I don’t understand why we don’t teach our young men empathy, consideration, balance, and flexibility. As a white woman I know that 1 in 4 women are victims of domestic violence (1). As a white woman I can’t help but blend the male violence against women with the white male violence against black men. As a white woman I know that according to the NAACP, African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites. This in itself is huge, but add to it the fact that African Americans only make up 13.4% of the population and try to get your brain around that (3).
As a white woman I don’t understand why we don’t teach police officers mental health de-escalation tools.
As a white woman I am aware of the big business profiteering of incarceration (4). Our system incentivizes the police arresting the most vulnerable of our population. Our prison system feeds on fear and ignorance. The police are pawns in this game that continues to vilify existing while black.
As a white woman I have to be careful of my safety when walking alone, or after dark. I have to fear for my safety when trail running, cycling, or going out on my own. I have been sexually abused by men and have heard countless stories of women who have died, been beaten, or feared for their lives because of men. As a white woman I feel guilty for referencing my own personal experiences with sexism and oppression because in truth I can not even begin to understand the experience of the day to day fear involved with breathing in this society while black. As a white woman I can not even begin to understand the experience of a black mother, Adrienne, who has to explain to her teenage son–full of youth and invincibility, that he can absolutely NOT go for a run in his neighborhood by himself because he might not come home. I can not begin to fathom the fear that she will experience, knowing how difficult it is to contain that youthful force, to try to protect somebody so innocent from a culture steeped in racism, fear, and hate. I know that I am privileged.
As a white woman I have tried to educate my 4 white sons to value diversity, differences, and everything human. I have tried to educate them to be empathetic, flexible, understanding, and kind. I have tried to teach them to advocate for others, that violence is never the answer, and that they are strong young men–that means that they should lift others up.
As a white mother of four white sons, all men look like grown little boys to me. Watching a white man/child extinguish the life of a black man/child is so painful, I wish I could turn back the clock and be with them when they were younger, empower them with responsibility for each other, give them opportunities to lift each other up and know deep down what real power that brings.
As a white woman I don’t know how to deal with this pain, how to stop this sickness that exists throughout our communities.
As a white woman I know that scared people are dangerous. I imagine that all kinds of people become police officers for different reasons. But I also know that for a scared boy/man, the idea of becoming a police officer and having the ability to carry weapons and wield power over others is the ultimate attraction. I know this is dangerous, and I wish there were systems in place to help lift these scared young men up out of their fear and keep them from hurting others.
As a white woman I am at times afraid of men.
I feel entitled writing this. I would feel entitled if I didn’t write this. I don’t know what the right answer is.
As a white woman I am used to being talked down to, mansplained, talked over, discounted, used, and silenced. As a white woman I will continue to show up, try to do what is right, speak up when I should, protect those I can, and teach others not to live in fear. As a white woman I recognize that not everyone is privileged enough not to have to live in fear, but the only way I know how to combat this is with love, humility, and compassion–for myself and for others.
- Huecker MR, Smock W. Domestic Violence. [Updated 2019 Oct 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499891/