(Yes, I stole the title from a movie, get over it – oh, and the movie? It is worth watching)
I was listening to a story on NPR this morning. They talked to a man who said he wouldn’t give his name because he “was afraid he would sound racist”. Think about that. If he, if you, if I think I’m sounding racist then it’s pretty damn likely that what is about to be said is racist. At a minimum, it’s insensitive. And if you have the capability to think it may be racist? Then ask yourself why and learn. His question?
This man was at a protest. He asked why they were protesting, he didn’t see the problem because “a lot of progress has been made”. And yes, he is right. A lot of progress has been made. The question comes down to the difference between “a lot” and “enough”. Were I talking to that nameless man I might ask about football. There’s a punt, we start with the ball on our own 15. Progress is made. We get down to the opponent’s 12. We are in the “red zone”. 73 yards have been gained. PROGRESS. Yet are we celebrating? I can only imagine the reaction of Bill Belichick if we were out dancing on the field celebrating our “progress”. Let’s look at it another way, if an abuser only beats half the time, should we celebrate? Claim success?
Yeah, white people, me too, listen. There is a problem. I don’t recall every seeing a video of a white man going through what George Floyd experienced. One last thing…. Please, oh, please recognize what you are saying when you say “I don’t see race” or “I don’t see color”. I emailed the chair of the English Department at UMass, Amherst looking for a professor I had nearly 40 years ago, Joe Skerrett. I wanted to tell Professor Skerrett that I learned a lot from him, that he had a big influence on me. Unfortunately what I learned was that he had died a few years ago. And what did I learn? Were I in class with him today and someone said “I don’t see color”, he would have replied “then you don’t see me, you don’t see who I am”. Seeing race isn’t racist. It’s accepting who someone is, that their experience may be different than mine. Hurting someone because of their race? Yes, racist. But seeing?
So, Dear White People….