Stunned, Speechless, Outraged, Heartbroken

Sorry for the long absence, but wow life blew up – lyme disease scare, car theft, step daughter, traveling, and more. But I will catch you all up on that at a later date. Right now I need to compose my thoughts on the current situation of our country. I feel the best way to do that is to give a little peek into my past, so bear with me through this.

I grew up in a small southern city where racism still runs rampant. For example, one of the local high schools boasted that they had no black people at their school and wouldn’t allow them in. Luckily I grew up in a family that taught me to value everyone equally, and demonstrated what was taught to me on a daily basis. This however didn’t prevent me from the harsh realities that racism does exist and it is ugly. I clearly remember my first experience – I was a kiddo in first grade with a black friend. At my desk, a black boy sat behind me. We would chat and talk during breaks, and I genuinely liked him. He enjoyed braiding hair, and well I loved having my hair played with. He would braid tiny little braids in me hair during class, and I thought they were sooooooo cool. I remember telling my white friends and bragging about my braids – their response was something along the lines of “Gross, don’t let him touch your hair.” As a first grader I don’t think I realized it for what it was, but looking back that is my first clear remembrance of the great divide in the city I grew up in.

Fast forward to high school – I had another black friend. I became friends with with a black guy my freshman year – not that he was my only black friend but I knew from the beginning that this would be different. We talked on the phone every night, traded notes in the hallway, and he soon became my best friend. The one person I wanted to talk to and be around. Things had gotten a bit more progressive as I got to high school – it was ok to talk to and be friends with black people. But then I crossed the line – I fell in love with a black guy. See I didn’t know the rules, you could be nice and make friends but God forbid you decided to take one home with you. After an entire year of friendship, this guy and I became your classic high school romance, except it didn’t follow the classic story line. Usually when you begin dating someone your friends are happy and want to hear the gossip, they don’t disown you and refuse to talk to you. They don’t trash you behind your back and spread horrid rumors about you. You don’t usually get shunned at church and told you need to repent of your sins. I mean I could understand if this person was an awful guy, but he was a good student and star of every sport. Everyone was friends with him and he was quite the popular guy. The only difference was that he was black.

Now let’s speed up to my current life – the gentle giant. He is a large black male and well I am still a short little white female. I must say I have grown a thicker skin and a non tolerance for racist people in my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t still experience a lot of ignorant people on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean I don’t now fear for my gentle giant when he is out by himself – even though I know he is gentle, let’s be honest he is large and can look a bit scary at times b/c of his size. On top of being large, he has to worry (as do I constantly) that his skin color could cause him to be the victim of a crime.

I still get comments that just make me scratch my head and hurt my heart just a little bit. “Why didn’t you tell me he was black?” – when friends meet him for the first time. Well, you didn’t tell me your boyfriend was white when you told me about him. “You don’t seem like the type of person who would date a black guy?” – I’m sorry, I didn’t realize there was a stereotype I needed to fit into to date a black person. “But your educated and have 3 degrees, how did you end up dating him?” – Guess I missed the class on racism and the reasons not to date a black person while I was becoming educated.

I say all of this to express my history with racism, however even through this I still don’t understand what it is like to walk a day in brown skin. I didn’t have a ridiculously lavish childhood, but my parents could let me wander and play outside without fear that I would be the target of a racial crime. I can take a hard look at myself and realize that I do have privilege in my life that comes with being white – I am usually never the racial minority in a room at work, I am the same skin color as about 80% of individuals in movies and on tv, I can smile and wave at police officers without having to worry if that person is one of the few bad seeds on the force, I am the same race as 99% of our country’s leaders, and the list goes on. It took me a little while to identify and accept this as a fact in my life, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a voice. Just because I am white, doesn’t mean I have to sit in silence. Just because I don’t know what it feels like to be black, doesn’t mean I can’t stand up for other members of the human race. This is my country too, and until we find out voice, we are allowing things to continue down this dangerous path.

“Care not what they say about the color of your skin let the brilliant light of your soul blind them.” – Mike Dolan

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

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