Several months ago, I sat in a meeting with women I admire. We were going around the room introducing ourselves to trainers that were present for an educational opportunity. The woman sitting next to me, introduced herself and discussed her pride to be a woman of color doing advocacy work for women and children of color in our community. After the meeting, I turned her words over in my mind, trying to figure out why her introduction struck me so deeply. Was it her confidence? The ease in her voice to say who she was, and include her race as part of her identity?
Then it hit me.
I was struck by her understanding and pride in knowing how her skin color impacted her experience and mission in her daily life, and the vacancy and very rare consideration that the whiteness of my skin had on mine.
This is privilege.
I say my children’s names hundred of times a day. I hear others say them, use them, read them, and I have pride in the people those names represent. I never consider their whiteness in that pride. I have never worried about their safety because of their skin color and I have never feared that their skin color will negatively impact the way people view them. I have not had to tell my sons to act a certain way around people that look differently than they do, because those people may be afraid of them or suspicious of their behavior because of their skin color.
This is privilege.
The truth is, until the last several years of my life, as I have advocated for women and children in my community, and begun to further examine my experiences in contrast to others, I have really never had to understand my whiteness. I have never had to examine how my life has been impacted by my skin color.
This is privilege.
The truth is, I don’t really have to examine racial inequality- a sign of my privilege- but I WANT TO.
I am a mother of two boys that I want to grow-up as change agents and not as perpetrators of century old problems. I am a white woman that wants to be an ally for change, not a white woman hiding in the fragility of my protected position.
I guess I don’t care. I don’t care what lane anyone thinks I belong in, and feel my voice should be used to solve. Today, I will use my voice to acknowledge my privilege and to stand in the lane that is closer to my truth- even if it makes me feel vulnerable and ashamed.
I acknowledge that to raise the young men I want to raise, I will need to dig further into equity issues, to examine my own prejudices and to really learn what I means to be an ally, and not just a quiet supporter.
I look at the picture above, of my boys- a carefree day on the lake- and wonder what the world they are growing-up in will bring them. I want them to grow-up in a world that gives them every opportunity to work hard to achieve their goals. And I want Black mothers, and Brown mothers, and all mothers to confidently say that their children will be afforded the same. I know this is not where we are. If you are a white mother struggling with this concept- ask yourself one simple question- would you trade?
I am ashamed and humbled by my answer to this question. I am ashamed and humbled that I don’t understand how be a bigger part of the solution.
I do know that it’s my job to continue to educate myself about what this looks like, and consider voices that understand all of this at a deeper level than I do. At 38, I finally understand that saying Black lives matter is important. This does not mean that other lives don’t matter, it just means that our institutions already reflect that sentiment, so it is important to be a voice for those that aren’t represented or respected by many institutions.
I have a lot of work to do. But as someone that deeply values human connection and emotion, as someone that deeply values human life- I promise that I will do my best to be part of change- and help my family be part of change… imperfectly.
Black lives matter. Your life matters.
Mother, Wife, Teacher and Believer.