In recent weeks, I was often met with the topic of racism and the importance of discussing it. Listening to and reading conversations on this topic, I have heard people complaining that they are tired of it being brought up in so many conversations.
I’ve been going back and forth thinking about whether it’s appropriate for me to write this article. Because I am a white woman, I have never been discriminated against based on the color of my skin, which is why I felt, and still do feel, that it is not my place to speak out about this issue.
Before I decided whether I should write this, I wanted to first discuss it with actual people of color to both discuss their experiences, as well as ask how they would feel about a white person speaking out on this topic.
I don’t intend to speak out for people of color, as there are many powerful voices out there who can speak for themselves. However, during one of the conversations I had leading up to me writing this article, I’ve had a person of color tell me, “Maybe because you’re white people will listen to you, since they don’t want to listen to us.”
Unfortunately, this is the reality we still live in. Although I still believe that the opinions of people of color are more valuable than mine on this topic, all of the people I talked to advised me to write this article, so I’ll do so with hope that it will make some people rethink their hurtful approach to conversations about race.
There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to white privilege. A lot of people assume that white privilege suggests that they never had any struggles in their lives. This is far from the truth. White privilege refers to people who never had to struggle due to their race or skin color; people who were never in danger or were never discriminated against because of the color of their skin.
White privilege has always existed in our world, and the fact that it still exists shows volumes about our society and what values are instilled in kids as they grow up. The sole fact that white privilege exists is a terrible thing. This, however, does not mean that people who have that privilege are expected to feel guilty about having it, as it was nobody’s choice to have it in the first place.
What people should do is acknowledge it and recognize its existence. People often fail to recognize that working towards creating a society that’s inclusive does not mean taking away anything from white people.
Claiming to be tired of conversations about racism in itself is a privilege. For people of color, this is their reality and they don’t get the chance to say “Time out” because they’re tired of it.
If people who are not affected by racism are tired of having conversations about it, imagine how tired people of color are of being treated poorly and often being in danger because of their race or ethnicity.
Imagine how tired people of color must be when they’re being followed around the store by an employee because they are automatically assumed to be thieves.
Imagine how tired people of color must be when what would be a routine stop by a police officer for a white person can result in the death of a person of color.
Imagine how tired must be the mothers of people of color, who have no other choice, but to explain to their kids that people may treat them badly just because of the color of their skin? No matter how much they would like to save their kids from the pain of this tragic realization, they need to educate them about it in order to keep them safe
The list could go on and on, but the point is clear. This isn’t a political issue, it’s a human rights issue. Educating ourselves on how racism affects others and what we as a society can do to fight it is the least we can do to support those affected by it.
Racism never went away, and until it does, so should the conversations about it.