We’ve all been told to stay home, yet the streets are full of protestors.
The protestors have been told the riots won’t change anything, yet they keep rioting.
They are told to follow rules, yet they break them.
Why must they follow rules when those tasked with enforcing the rules cannot be held accountable? Why must they listen to any sort of authority when those with authority wield it to harm others? Why must they abide by the structures and norms that provide order in our society if these are the same structures that have systematically disenfranchised them?
I am a white person. When I walk by a police officer, whether I am going for a jog or checking out at a store or walking down a dark alley, I get a friendly wave. Once a man was following me around in a grocery store and a police officer actually helped me get home.
I am a white person. If I told someone to put their dog on a leash in a public park where dogs are supposed to be on leashes, they probably would do it without any questions asked. They wouldn’t call the police and say: “A caucasion woman is telling me to put my dog on a leash.”
I am a white person. My demographic is not disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. I live in a spacious neighborhood where I can go outside without fear of catching the virus.
I am privileged and I have no way of ever fully understanding what the black community is going through this week. But I can still help. The first way to do that is to recognize my privilege.
When I walk by a police officer they suspect nothing of me and this is because the origin of America’s police system is built on the history of rounding up escaped slaves and the war on drugs, which disproportionately affect the black community.
No one would call the police on me if I told them to put their dog on a leash because they know the description, “caucasion woman” does not ring any bells with police officers. They are not pre-programmed to suspect me.
The coronavirus is not disproportionately affecting me because my demographic has not been victimized by systems that result in poverty, crowded low-income housing and a lack of reliable healthcare.
In this time when our black neighbors are suffering, white people need to remember that we don’t get it and we never will. But the black community should not have to fight alone.
By recognizing our own privilege as white people, we take the first step toward helping the cause.
The second step is abandoning neutrality. While we can never understand the struggle, we can take a firm stance against racism. Staying quiet means you’re condoning racism.
Thirdly, we need to educate other people. If you are a white person lucky enough to recognize you have privilege, congratulations. Now please tell your white family and friends that they have it too.
Fourthly, do something. Donate some money to Black Lives Matter, an organization devoted to promoting justice for black people or to the National Bail Out fund for black women.
Lastly, if you see a black person being arrested and something doesn’t seem quite right, hang around. See what’s going on and don’t be afraid to call in others if it seems like someone isn’t being treated fairly.
You have that privilege. Use it.