Posted on: November 12, 2016
Dear White People,
Yes, all of you. I need you to do something. I need you to sit in your discomfort of this black woman saying that you (yes, you) are going to be okay.
In your white skin you can and have lived with a world of privilege. You can walk down the street and no one will clutch their purse or walk on the other side for fear of you.
In your white skin you can get a cab at any time of the day or night in any city anywhere in the country.
In your white skin you can look at expensive purses, watches, jewelry (or shop at the local Old Navy) without looks of suspicion or be followed.
In your white skin you can sit at a lunch table with people who look like you.
In your white skin you can watch any television show, movie, commercial and see your face. You can pick up a magazine and your face will be on the cover, faces in the advertisements will mirror your own.
In your white skin you can walk into Duane Reade or Walgreens or CVS and find makeup that will match your skin and hair products that will wash and style your hair. You can walk into any salon and you will get your hair done.
In your white skin you can send your child to any school and not worry that they’ll be the only one that looks like them. You can read your child any book and your child will see their face. You can buy any toy, any baby doll at any big chain or small town toy store and your child will see their face.
In your white skin you can go to any doctor any where and the doctor will not prejudge you, your health, your weight simply by looking at you and before reading your chart.
In your white skin you can turn in a term paper and it will not be assumed that you have plagiarized it.
In your white skin you can attend an elite preschool, grade school, prep school, high school, university and no one will assume you got in on scholarship or because of your white skin. Your professors will not question your place there or patronize you.
In your white skin you will not be disadvantaged at an interview before the first handshake.
In your white skin as your possible anger, fear, frustration over this election subsides and life continues as it did before you will be able to laugh with the late night television hosts about the buffoonery of the asshat who is the president elect. You may not hesitate to hold your partner’s hand when you walk down the street. You may not hesitate walking alone at night in your neighborhood. You will go out to dinner, to the movies, to PTA and your life will be as it has before because of your white skin.
In your white skin it will be business as usual by the end of this week. For many, it already is.
In your white skin you can marvel at the new Red Cups at Starbucks, wonder what’s for dinner, make plans for the holidays.
In your white skin you can already sleep. Or as someone told me yesterday at Yoga Teacher Training, “already start to feel better!”
In your white skin you can let your kid play on the street without worry.
In your white skin you can pump gas without being harassed. You can go into your place of worship and not find it vandalized.
In your white skin you can wear proclamations of your faith (a crucifix, perhaps) and not want/need to hide it.
In your white skin history books tell your story, the line of white presidents returns.
In my black skin this is not possible. It’s not possible for my sisters in hijab. It is not possible for my brothers who wear turban. It is not possible for my gender queer and gender non-conforming friends of color. It is not possible from anyone with brown skin.
So, white people. Yes, all white people. You have a responsibility to yourself, your children, your family and your community to NOT let yourself fall back into your life.
You have a responsibility to teach your children, your family, your community that the work doesn’t end because your life returns to normal. You have the responsibility to talk about issues of race and racism and hatred and sexism and rape culture and xenophobia and bigotry and bullying and Islamophobia, and antisemitism and misogyny with your children and the MODEL that these are things you do not stand for.
You have the responsibility to check in with your black and brown and queer and disabled friends next week, next month, next year and the weeks, months and years that follow.
You have the responsibility to act with your wallet and donate to funds that help people of color, women, children, undocumented citizens who will live in hell for four years.
You have a responsibility to continue to be angry, scared, worried. You have a responsibility to ACT when you see discrimination, when you see white normative dominance in your life. You have a responsibility to speak out against racial, ethnic and religious injustice. You have the responsibility to work.
Your job for the next four years, if you are truly heartbroken at the result of this election, to consider what it would be like to give up your white skin and all of the privileges that come with it. You cannot do this, obviously. There’s no way for you to wake up black tomorrow. But, you do owe it to all the rest of us to consider it. And you owe it to yourself and the rest of us to never forget how you felt on Wednesday morning; that fear, that anger, that terror, because we can’t.
We never have.