Things We as White People Take for Granted Expose People of Color to Terror
I can’t get it out of my head so of course, I’ll put it down here for you…
Yesterday I was talking to a black woman I know. Her son is getting his driver’s license. He’s older than most kids who get theirs for the first time because he’s been afraid to drive. Because he knows he’ll get pulled over. Because he sees what happens to people who look like him.
Close your eyes and think back to when you got your driver’s license for the first time. What do you feel? Freedom? Excitement? Accomplishment? Is that a warm, fuzzy memory?
Now imagine you’re scared to drive. You’re not scared because your parents bought you a stick shift and you’re nervous about it, or because you get freaked out on the freeway. You’re scared because driving opens up another avenue to your death. Nearly every day you see people who look like you killed for driving. Not driving leaves that avenue closed, exposes you to less risk. This is, in the definitive sense, terror. You can’t, if you’re white like me, really even begin to imagine the feeling, so don’t try too hard here today.
Just ask yourself where you are right now after reading this. Have you ever thought about the difference in how you approach something versus how a person of color does, or why?
Tell this story to a white friend and talk about ways we can start to dismantle this. Don’t stay in the abstract, only talking about systems of oppression. Don’t point the finger at anyone but yourself, YOU (and ME) perpetuate this if we’re not constantly working against it. What are some things you can do, today or this week or month, or every day, in the community or among your peers to start to chip away at the blinders we wear, and the complicity we share?
We live in a society where a young man who is well down the road to becoming a doctor is scared to get a driver’s license because he knows it exposes him to violence.