I Don't Know What It Feels Like to Be Black in America, But I'm Listening
As I watch the coverage of the events in Ferguson, Missouri, my heart hurts.
I don’t know how to process the flurry of emotions coursing through my body right now.
How is this acceptable? How is this the right thing? How does this happen?
I listen to the eyewitnesses to the shooting. Mr. Brown’s friends, family members and neighbors. I don’t know the exact circumstances—and quite frankly, only the deceased, his friend and the police officer in question know the true circumstances—but what I do know is that I do not know how it feels to have my scale always tipped toward guilty. As a white woman in America, this is not something I will ever face. I should probably be grateful or feel lucky, but the truth is, I feel conflicted.
I wrote once about how I detest the phrase “I am blessed” because to me it insinuates some kind of moral superiority. As if God somehow smiled on me and made my life all rainbows and sunshine, meanwhile, my black friends (or Mexican, or Asian, or Indian, or … ) are somehow not blessed. Poor non-white people. They just aren’t as blessed as we are. Bullshit. White privilege is real and it exists and it pisses me off.
If you haven’t guessed already, I am fairly strong-minded. I have opinions and I’m not afraid to share them.
But in this situation, I really have no right to an opinion.
Why? Because I don’t know what it feels like to always be on the other side of the whole “presumed innocent” thing. I don’t know what it feels like to be feared just because of the pigment of my skin. I don’t know what it feels like to be looked at with such disregard, such distrust, such disgust. I don’t know what Any. Of. This. Feels. Like.
And so, I’m shutting up and listening.
I’m listening to the journalists who are there right now. The ones who shot raw video as they were being arrested.
I’m listening to the protesters as they peacefully hold their hands in the air and say “don’t shoot” while they engage in one of the most basic American rights: to peacefully assemble and to petition their government for answers.
I’m listening to the bloggers and activists on Twitter who are sharing words and images and hope on all social media.
And I’m listening to the family and friends of this young man whose life was cut short.
So right now I’m listening and sharing and following and retweeting. I’m doing what I can to lift the voices of those in this fight. To show solidarity in my own small way. I’m not the leader in this fight. But I’m hopeful I’ll find a way to join the fight and do more than just listen.