To all the white girls I spent time with in Louisiana that have been completely silent on the racial issues happening in the world, I want you to know that I hear you, and I understand your silence.
Growing up white in the South especially as a female is the definition of white privilege. Your best friend just got a new dress? Good news because your mom will most likely buy you a cuter more expensive dress because it’s important to be pretty and wealthy in the South. You are never and I repeat never allowed to hang out alone with a black boy and even worse if you date one. I’ve seen people in the South complain about black people for literally being black.
And the reason for this silence is simply because of how we grew up in regards to racism. It’s because growing up in the South, you are taught and accustomed to think most black people are violent, criminals, and ignorant. But it makes sense right? Slavery started in the South and what happened after slavery “ended” is part of the reason people form this stereotype. If you want to learn more information on what happened after slavery, I highly recommend the movie 13th on Netflix.
We are living through history and now is not the time to be silent unless you associate with being a racist, which I don’t think anyone would ever want to admit to. But remember, I hear your silence and I understand. It’s hard. You don’t want to disappoint your family or friends. You are scared to maybe say the wrong thing. You don’t want to be judged. I’ve had every single thought you are probably having right now, but it takes one experience to make you see life a little differently. Moving out of my small town made me see life completely different. I began to understand and appreciate diversity on a personal and professional level. My favorite quote of all time is one from Mark Twain that reads: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.“
Change starts with us. Change starts with us educating our parents on racism. It’s time to start having the conversation about racism. It’s time to take a step back and truly educate ourselves on Black history and black oppression in America. Black oppression that continues to happen today. And let’s be honest, we did NOT get a good black history education growing up in the South. It’s time to stop claiming you’re not racist by saying things like “I don’t hate all black people” or “There are some good black people in the world.”
And you don’t have to post on social media to make yourself feel better about the situation. You don’t have to post at all, but you do need to be having these conversations with the people around you. The people that actually listen and value your opinion. Have conversations about racism with people who’s opinion you may have the power to change.
I am trying to do my part in spreading awareness to the people that I know need it the most, and I know that’s not enough. So if you want to do your part, but don’t know where to start, here is a book I recently ordered to help me understand black oppression and racism in America (especially within children), and I plan to order a new one once I’m finished. I’m also adding a whole list of books for white people specifically to read on racism. Also including a list of Netflix shows to watch on Black History.
It’s time educate ourselves and to use our white privilege to help People of Color. It’s time to demand equality and ask yourself questions like “why am I apart of a sorority that doesn’t let black girls in” it’s up to you to make that change. Ask yourself “why am I not allowed to date a black guy” it’s up to you to have that conversation and make a change with the way our parents think. Ask yourself “Why am I supporting black musical artists but not the black lives taken by the police.” It’s time to demand diversity training in the workplace, in schools, in your sorority, etc.
We’ll never understand what it’s like to be colored in America, but we can spread kindness and not hate. It’s time to treat other human beings the way you would want to be treated. It’s simple. Treat Black People, Transgender, Gay, Asian, Hispanic, Islamic, etc in a way you would want to be treated back. We are all human and we all have our struggles, but it’s time we truly come together and attempt to make this world a better place because right now, it’s falling apart.
And as Jane Elliott said so well, “Every white person in this room who would be happy to be treated as this society treats our black citizens please stand.” And no one stood. Why is that?
No one is perfect, but change truly starts with us. And if this triggered you, great. It means there’s room to grow and learn and evolve.