A couple of days ago, I found this awesome article by Molly Hart on social media. It talks about the unwritten, unspoken rules for People of Color (POC) in society that are invisible to white people. It was so eye-opening for me to really understand and think through how hard it must be to constantly have to worry about going through life and wondering what innocent act of living will result in a phone call to police. We’ve heard about being Black and (walking, running, driving, biking, sleeping, selling water, pretty much existing.)
Imagine having to make sure you always have your college jacket in your car so police talk to you differently? Or making sure you speak to store employees first or always have a question ready because “just browsing” is suspicious? I just get in my car and drive. I don’t think about where my documents are, what jacket I have available to prove I’m educated, or what will happen if I do get pulled over. It would be a hassle, no doubt, but just because it will waste time and a ticket will likely be expensive. At no point have I ever been concerned that I will be ripped out of my car, tazed, or possible shot. It’s slightly scary, sure, but I have been pulled over three times and I never feared for my life.
Sundown towns really do still exist. Places where you never want to stop if you aren’t white. It’s 2023 and there are still places where this is happening. I cannot believe it. Come on, grow up, and accept that we are all people and the only people ruining anything are the racists! This is completely nuts.
This part especially struck me:
Even an elevator is unsafe for POC, especially Black men. It’s very easy to be accused of doing something inappropriate toward a woman in an elevator, which shows racism in our society. Unfortunately, it’s better to be safe than sorry by following this rule of avoiding encounters similar to this in an elevator.
When we were in NY for my wife’s grandmother’s funeral, we had one instance in the hotel where we walked up to the elevator and one of the kids pushed the button. While we waited, a Black man walked up to the elevators too. We all got on, but he hung back and didn’t even look to see if he could fit with us. He determined it was safer for him to wait and get the next elevator than to jump in with our white family. I didn’t take it personally, being aware that an elevator can be a dangerous place for false accusations and also for real assaults when women get into an elevator alone with a strange man.
We just need to do better. No one needs to feel guilty about our country’s racist past, but denying that there is systemic racism or that racism even exists is a bad look. If learning about racism in the past makes you feel a way, examine why. Are you angry that this happened because it’s terrible? Are you sad because innocent people were hurt and abused? Because enslaved people help build this country with their labor but did not receive appropriate compensation for their work? Because humans were treated like animals? THAT IS NOT GUILT BECAUSE YOU ARE WHITE! No one is trying to make you feel bad for being white.
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