Racism, Denial and Trayvon
By Kristi Walker on July 20, 2013
I’m a white woman. I have brownish red hair that I dye blond every eight weeks or so, depending on how motivated I am to get rid of the roots coming through. I have green eyes and freckles. I try to tan, but every summer I’m reminded that it just wasn’t in the cards for me to be anything other than pink if I’m in the sun for longer than an hour. I have no other perspective from which to view the world than my own. My own consists of being a white woman in America. Period.
The last few weeks have been tough for people of all colors in America. The great divide that racism has wrought in our nation is at the forefront of every news outlet. I’m not sure they’re the best avenue to get our truth from, though. I think honest dialogue, humility and open minds will do us more good than watching CNN, FOX or MSNBC. I think that one-on-one human interaction is where healing begins, even though I’m writing from behind this little computer screen. Can I admit I have no idea where to even start the conversation? I just know that no matter how awkward or uncomfortable, the conversation needs to start.
First, I’d like to say that my heart aches for Trayvon’s mom. I wish that I could hold her in my arms and cry with her. I have an 18 year old son and if he never walks through the door again, I hope others will hold me as my world falls apart around me. I promise I will not care what color the arms comforting me happen to be if I’m ever in her shoes. I’ve thought about her, in particular, a lot over the last few weeks. I’m so sorry that her son is gone. I’m so very, very sorry.
I’m angry that the media called George Zimmerman a “White-Hispanic”. That is a word that was made up during this trial and it ticks me off. As much as I dislike the little boxes we all check to identify ourselves for some arbitrary identification, there is no box that says “White-Hispanic”. To make up that word for this particular trial makes me angry because it feels like the media intentionally sought out a way to make this about white people and black people. George Zimmerman would not be classified as a white man in any other circumstance and it feels wrong to classify him as such to intentionally stir the pot of racism. That’s not OK.
As a white woman, I will no longer pretend like I don't know anyone who uses the term "nigger" on a regular basis, because I do. I would probably go so far as to say that every single white person who lives in American has heard, used or made reference to that word. Lying doesn't help us become who we should be and I refuse to pander to anyone who continues to pretend that that term isn't used, and especially to anyone that continues to use it in hate and ignorance. I also refuse to pretend like it's OK for a black person to call me a "cracker" or a "honky". It's not and you can't do that without me speaking up and saying you're part of the problem. If we want real change, then we must change and be honest about it. No more lying or pandering to those that are “tolerant” in public, but laugh at racist jokes and jabs behind closed doors.
We’ve got to start a dialogue built on something other than ugliness and hurt. I have no idea how to go about that, but this is the best that I’ve got right now. I want to be better. I want my country to be better. I’m clueless and just feel awkward even having the discussion, but it must be done. We must be fearless and humble.
I do not subscribe to the illusion that the starting point in America is equal for everyone. It isn’t. Those that are born in the ghetto do not get the same starting point as those born on Park Avenue, or even middle class suburbia. I do not believe that God has made one race less, or greater, than another.
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