I am a college educated White Woman. I own a home. I can pay my bills and afford to buy unnecessary items like wine and books. I was raised to treat everyone equally. I’m also an idealist, optimist, and naive/rose colored glasses wearing person. I’ve also been that way. But I can no longer ignore my privilege because of the color of my skin. Four days ago George Floyd was murdered 3 miles from my house by a white police office. He knelt on the mans neck and suffocated him to death. The horror of his death, combined with the horror of the lynching of Ahmaud Albery, has shaken me to my core. What kind of people kill others, especially because of the color of their skin?
Wednesday, May 27th, the riots started. The peaceful protests designed to be an outlet for the grief of many people of color in my community turned violent. People looted the local Target, grocery store, and dollar store that are 2.5 miles from my house. They burned buildings, raided and burned down the 3rd precinct police station, and broke windows to local businesses. Thursday when I drove around running errands I saw small businesses board up windows with plywood. The grocery store I work at closed our doors early 2 days in a row. My new community feels like its in a state of complete anarchy. It’s like Lord of the Flies.
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”Martin Luther King Jr.
Because the horror has finally come close to my safe, quiet, very white dominated neighborhood, I am horrified. I am horrified by the violence that ended a life, and the violence that ensued afterwards. I’m horrified that people believe that their reaction to the murder of a human being should be violence, arson and looting. Here’s the kicker…..I now realize that my Black and Brown skinned brothers and sisters have lived this narrative 20 times longer than I have. This is their collective experience. This has not been my collective experience. For that, I am ashamed. I’m ashamed that it took me to the age of 39 to realize how many people of color truly suffer at the hands of racism and prejudice. I am ashamed that I discounted peoples stories in the news, and didn’t understand the experience of being brutalized by another human being. I am ashamed that I don’t know what to do next.
Right now, I’m going to sit on my porch and grieve. I’m going to grieve with my community for all the lives lost. I’m going to pray for my friends raising sons who are people of color that their lives will be protected. And I will look for ways to make amends with those who feel the racial divide is too big a chasm to cross. How else are we to heal?