Waking Up to White Privilege!

Waking up to White privilege. (please read completely before judging)

White Privilege, I never thought that way for sure. I never thought I would be saying that ever. As a white kid growing up in the south, I was also a poor white kid growing up in the south. To make that statement even more defined I was a fat, poor, white preachers grandkid raised with strict dress codes aka I was always the weird one out. No matter what. Privilege was something I never thought I would be saying about my life. That is where I think I may have gone wrong for many years. I just saw/heard the word Privilege and not the words “White Privilege”.

 I spent a lot of time wishing I was black when I was a kid. My best friend Kim 3rd-8th grade was equally as fat. She was not made fun of near as much as I was. She also was not painfully shy like I was. Kim was not forced to wear dresses and she was this beautiful chocolate brown. I remember telling her that she had the most perfect skin and I wish I could be the color she was. Not from lack of trying. I stayed in the sun all summer long when I was little but at most, I looked like a lightly toasted twinkie.

Photo taken from google

Kim and I were best friends till we were not. I’m not sure what happened to Kim one moment she was there, the next she wasn’t there anymore. I saw her once after she stopped coming to school. She had a baby, pretty young; I think. That’s all I know of her. She was just so pretty and I have lots of good memories of her being my friend. I would share my coke and pickle with her at break. I got in so much trouble when I mentioned this to my Nana, and I remember I started getting extra snack money even if the truth be, we didn’t really have the money for extra. They wanted to make sure Kim had her own drink. Ha-ha on them, Kim and I beat the system and had enough to get a drink a pickle and chocolate now… We halved everything! The sad part of Kim being my friend that I remember is, Kim could not come to my birthday parties. My birthday was in the summer. I had slumber parties with church friends mostly. Kim could not come during school to sleep over either it just isn’t appropriate I was told.

I remember once, Kim and an older girl that was a student of my mom’s, named Claudette she was one of the girls that would always plat my hair (entirely different story). My mom being a special education teacher, and a 4-H leader, along as being a Girl scout leader had many irons in the fire. So, I can’t tell you what project we were working on, but for some reason we were all working on something together and we had to go out to my house. I think Kim and I must have been in 5th or 6th grade, the older girl in 7th or 8th. When we were leaving to take the two of them home, we passed some of my favorite flowers and Kim said oh they are pretty what are they called? I happily said “N*&^% Navels”. Kim’s mouth dropped wide open and was like “YOU CAN’T SAY THAT, WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT”…. Claudette patted Kim on the back and said calm down, she doesn’t know any better. That is what the white folk call those flowers. As if that was a good excuse , Just like it was ok!

{ Apparently those flowers from that dreadful moment are called Black eyed Susan’s}

White Privilege, I didn’t know or understand and until I moved to New York I would have argued that I did not have White privilege at all. However now, looking back, I did. So many years ago, when I called out the flowers name, while I didn’t know that flower by any other name, I knew it wasn’t a nice word , yet I said it anyway. I had a choice, Yes, I was young but I knew. I read enough books by that time to know what the word was, what harm it caused and why as a white person I should not use it. Have I said the “N word” since that day? Sadly Yes. In songs, in jokes, as greetings, frankly way too often. “Never in a negative way” I could say in defense, But Seriously that sounds like the dumbest thing I have ever said. Now if you ask my best friend of almost 21 years who happens to be black and male. He will tell you there is not a racist bone in my body. Because he loves me, he will also tell you I do no wrong but he is heavily bias…. Truth is I make mistakes, Big ones. THIS IS ONE OF THEM. As I am typing this, I can even hear him go a little quite when I said the N word One /to too many times in front of him. Now I’m thinking my White Privilege was getting a bit out of control thinking, I could just say that to him, and because he loves me it was ok. IT IS NOT OK.

Image taken from google

When I first started hearing about White Privilege It is something I could not get behind, because I could not see past, the pain in my own family history. The fact; one side of my own family worked the cotton fields, in the hot Louisiana sun. How my family cleaned houses and served food for the rich folks. I could not see past how my grandpa worked everyday of his life till his skin was so brown you really could not tell what color he was unless you were to move his sleeve up a little or his watch to the side. I could not look past how on one side of my Very White southern family there seems to be a Black blood line that no one seems to want to talk about. I could not see past the fact sometimes we did not have food in our cabinets, or money in our bank account. How I wore shoes with holes in them to school. The list goes on and on. How was any of this Privilege? Especially having to do with being White. Surely, they don’t mean me! BUT I was getting everything confused. White Privilege is not about being rich or poor, what you have or don’t have. White privilege is not being afraid that you won’t have a life to experience a job, school, family, dinners, and safety. etc.

White Privilege, is walking into a store, picking up an object laying it over your bag and walking around with it, and no one every saying a word to you. How many black women and men would get away with that?  White Privilege Is yelling to the gas attendant you want to put $20 in your tank and they turning on your tank and they trusting you will pay after you fill up.  White Privilege is a doctor letting a nurse leave unlocked medicine cabinet unlocked in a room with you while they both leave, even though you are on record as an addict. White Privilege is taking all the little safety things for granted, that for sure we do.

Back when the world was hating all Muslims and Muslims were fearing for there lives here in America, I took a deep look into White Privilege. It was then I fist realized the things I mentioned above. I never noticed these things till I lived with my Asian Muslim ( converted Christian) husband (now Ex- Husband). He was often misjudged as a different race than Asian. We would endure some pretty nasty looks and treatments until they realized he was Asian and not what they assumed. Then even so If they heard our last name the racial profiling would begin and the treatment would sometimes begin to be even worse. Many days I sat with my sister-in-law and we would extensively talk about all the what ifs. What we would do if something happened to the kid’s schools. We would go over what they were told to do. The world was going crazy. We were scared. That was another moment that I realized White Privilege played a huge part in America.

So, while I can’t say by no means I know what the black community feels like. I can say that I know “any form of racism feels scary”. I can also say I know a small bit of how hate feels from being a woman, a fat woman at that, who has been assaulted at a young age. Then who was married into a Muslim family for almost 7 yrs. I know this much for sure Black Lives Matter and I stand with you!

Image taken from Google

Now that I am woke to the privilege I carry; I want only to do things that can help the communities that need my help the most. Black lives matter is in the fore front of everyone’s mind right now. Some of us White people feel a great deal of pain for our friends and loved ones that are in so much pain, sadness and deep frustration. We feel this pain with you! We hear your cries. We hear your pain. We want your children to be safe at school and play grounds. Your husbands to be able to go out to work and relax with a run. We want you all to be safe in your cars and at home. We haven’t forgot about you momma we want you to be safe at the grocery, work, malls, theaters, and worships. And the places in-between.

I don’t feel like there is enough I can do. The things that I try to do currently is listen to your needs, help repost things that need reposting, spread the messages that need to be spread, help elect officials that will make changes to benefit Black lives , teach our children to be kind , love all, donate when I can, where I can, be a friend, stand up for whats right, and be there to admit our faults.

I am sorry that it took me so long to understand white privilege. I am sorry that while I have always been a friend, I have not always been the best one. All my stumbles of wrong phases and questions , not knowing how I disrespected you till it was to late. My hope is through my admittance others can do the same. See the faults within themselves and come to be better friends and alliances. #BlackLivesMatters

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