It’s been about a month since I began writing again. I haven’t started on anything substantial, like a book, or even a short story. For most of my life, I have had this creative need. As a kid, I wrote in journals. I journaled about the food I ate, the mean girls at school, and eventually heartbreak, love, and the journey of life.
Being in COVID quarantine with life not-quite-the-same as before has made me think a lot. I have always been an introspective person and sometimes this is not beneficial. There is a thing called thinking too much. But, being in COVID has also made me reassess my goals and my wants for my life.
Let me start by saying, I’m a hugely privileged person. I grew up in an upper class white WASP family. I was afford the privilege of private high school, and the privilege to change to another private high school when the first one didn’t quite mean my needs. My college experience was paid for completely by my parents, putting me in the position to graduate without debt, and the ability to live on my own and make a living without the burden of cumbersome student loans. I have had the ability to waffle about my career and my life. I have had the ability to give my kids experiences like six years of gymnastics team, ballet, playing the clarinet. I was able to change career paths at 40, to something more in line with my beliefs, where I felt like I could give back.
Not everyone has these privileges. Not everyone wakes up with two parents who care about them every day and a table full of food. In fact, most people in this world don’t.
When I think about my problems and when I get depressed, I tell myself it’s okay not to be okay. But in general, I feel like my issues are first world problems and white people problems. It doesn’t lessen those problems in my eyes, but it is good to realize ones own privilege and see it for what it is. I have the luxury to wallow in my own self-pity. A lot of people don’t.
This week, I watched in horror as a black man was shot seven times in the back. Actually, I decided not to watch the video, because the video of George Floyd’s death which I accidentally clicked on haunts me to this day. And now, as if to justify it news outlets are saying there was a warrant out for his arrest. And even so, does that give the police a right to act as judge and jury and shoot the man in the back in front of his children? In the very same week, we watched as Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17 year old boy, murdered two people and injured another and walked right by police officers carrying a AR-15. Kyle Rittenhouse had the privilege of walking away, simply because of the color of his skin.
Privilege is a funny thing. It can be used for good and for bad. But one thing has become abundantly clear to me in the last few years as I have had the opportunity to educate myself on issues usually swept under the rug: the people and the government of the United States continues to support people of privilege while suppressing people who aren’t born of the same advantage. This can be seen in public policies, news reports, and in the horrible cases we continue to see in the news.
So one question: will you use your privilege to help others? To change the way the world sees all people? To strive to help black people achieve the change and the justice they so badly need? Be an advocate and an ally. Don’t be a white savior. Be a friend and supportive. Talk to your children about race. Talk to your children about privilege. Make sure they are allies too. And if we all do this and we use our privilege to create real and lasting change, then maybe, just maybe, the future will be a better place for all people to live in. One of acceptance and joy. One where a black man can walk on the street without being afraid of being murdered needlessly by a police man. One where prison sentences aren’t decided based on the color of the skin, but based on the actual crime. One where our kids can play together, help one another, hold hands, and create joy and happiness.
Bridge the gap.
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