Why We Need To Talk About Race, And Why You Might Hate Me For It.

We need to talk about race. I will not apologize for any discomfort that this post may cause, nor will I be upset if your feelings towards me change because of my political beliefs. In fact, if this post makes you so uncomfortable that it elicits that unique, burning feeling of immeasurable anger or disgust that can only generate from the very pit of your stomach, whether you agree with my stance or not, then I will consider this post a success.

Why? Because that means that means that you needed to hear what I need to say.

I was one of those people that believed that “All Lives Matter” was the acceptable retort to the Black Lives Matter movement. I believed that singling out one group of people did nothing but just strengthen racism. I was one of those people that lived in a bubble of unrelenting privilege. Luckily, I have friends who are people of color that had no problem shaking some sense into me, and that took the time to challenge my beliefs, making me look at myself in the mirror, and forcing me to question my entire understanding of what racial identity is.

When Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running mate, social media was flooded with the ever so judgmental court of people who believe themselves as the all-knowing scholars of race. The discussion rarely revolved around her capabilities as a leader, but around whether this was just another transparent game of “identity politics”. I should have saved a screenshot of every comment I read where people felt themselves educated enough to determine whether she is “black enough”, or those who questioned her motives for running as a black woman, when she had referred to herself as Indian in the past (and, for the people in the back who still don’t understand how this works, her father was Jamaican and her mother Indian, so yes, she is a black Indian woman).

Then there’s the current outrage about the senseless killing of a little boy by his neighbor, and the racist (yes, racist) diatribe that has followed on social media. People asking where the outrage is, and why a white boy being killed by a black man doesn’t get the same attention as George Floyd of Breonna Taylor. This false equivalence is just another example of this country’s deeply ingrained racism, and the fact that some people will go the distance to justify their racist beliefs by renaming them as genuine concern. For example, those of you who are concerned with the lack of outrage regarding Cannon’s case, I ask you, what outrage are you looking for? Is it justice? Because the killer was swiftly detained and sentenced to prison, there was no months long wait for charges to be pressed or stops at the McDonalds drive thru on the way to booking (I see you, Colorado shooter who whomever that white dude was).  We use the hashtag #SaveTheChildren, so is the outrage that we should have stricter gun control, so our children aren’t shot to death? I will bet whatever savings I have left that those who are asking for outrage are not asking for gun control.

Here’s the statement that will make you uncomfortable: You are most likely not questioning Kamala Harris because of whether she identifies as Indian or black, or whether she is “black enough” (and please, for everyone’s sake, stop saying that, but I’ll get into that in a bit). Your outraged about Cannon’s murder isn’t that he was killed. Your outrage in both of these cases and in many more is that your unfounded (and in some cases, I’ll even concede to unconsciously unrecognized) fear of black people is not being justified, and that your whiteness is not a vulnerability, making you recognize your privilege.

I am a Jew of color. Yes, my pale, red-burning, bordering on transparent skin does not exclude me from being a person of color. What it does afford me though is privileges that others like me don’t get to experience. There have been times where I have been at places like the nail salon, where I can hear the person next to me complaining about the technician from a Latin American country who’s English is minimal, looking at me and asking for some sort of validation from a fellow “white woman”. I would lie if I said that looking at their faces contort and turn into 50 shades of red doesn’t bring me joy when I tell them that I am myself an immigrant, and that English classes aren’t easily accessible, but a privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy. I have been in rooms with people whom, without knowing my story, have discussed how we as a country should not be allowing immigrants to take our jobs, and how the President’s policies are much needed in order to “Keep America Great”, looking at me for some type of white validation, as if its required for all white people to stick together in order to prevent this attack on whiteness.

Let me explain something to you: America is only great to those who get to enjoy its privileges and freedoms without having to justify themselves as a valuable citizen. America is only great to those who do not have to worry about being judged by the color of their skin while walking down the street. America is only great to those who do not have to worry that talking to their children in their native language could pose a risk or expose you and your small children to judgment. America is only great to those who are not automatically assumed as illegal or criminals.

America is only great to those who are white.

And to my white friends: I know that many of you agree with me, and that many of you are not racist, and that you have stood by the side of your fellow POC brothers and sisters in the fight for equality. But for those of you who are thinking to yourself “how dare she say that I am racist just because I am white” I just want to tell you this: I never called you racist, so if you got to that conclusion, congratulations, you have reached the first step towards self-reflection and self-betterment.

So, to go back to All Lives Matter. They don’t, and they won’t until every single person in this country recognizes and understands the deeply ingrained systemic racism and hurdles set in place in our society that make life for people of color infinitely harder and dangerous. Stop arguing that people like Kamala Harris aren’t black enough, or that there should be the same level of coverage for black on white crime than there is for police brutality. Stop with false equivalencies to justify your beliefs and make yourself feel better. Maybe I am an idealist, but I have hope that all people have the ability to put their ego down in order to understand the struggles of others and help make this world a better and just place. 


Popular posts from this blog

Comfortably Uncomfortable: Let's Begin

What Is Joy, And Where To Find It

The Stolen Journey Home