To start things off, I’m going to be very clear: racism is a very serious problem and it never really went away, despite what people tell us. If we don’t acknowledge the problem and the severity of it, there will never be change. If we ignore the facts and listen to talking points of how any movement trying to address this problem is a violent and extremist organization, then racism will be a forever problem. This is one topic that there should be no divide on: Racism is bad. It’s wrong. And if you can’t see that it’s a serious problem, you may actually be part of the problem.
I’m a reasonable person. I like to think that I put a great deal of thought into everything I say. I don’t want to be a talking piece for a political party, that recites their beliefs without thinking for myself. I’ve never been one to let someone tell me what I should think. On Facebook, a dear friend posted something about race on my timeline, how to be “less white” and asked my thoughts. I was confused why. He just wanted to get opinions. I gave mine. The moral of that lengthy response: Racism is bad and there should not be any argument there. However, the “race conversation” has to be one that inspires togetherness and change, not division. If you unnecessarily use the labels “white superiority” in a place just for the sake of sounding woke, you end up looking ridiculous to me.
One of the major points I tried to make was that I’m a privileged white girl that can only empathize with the problem, though I admit situations with my own son has made me see the problem closer to home. I can’t presume to know what it feels like when you’re targeted because of your skin color because it’s never happened to me. But, what I can do is listen to see the ways that I can help make the change that needs to happen. Even if it’s by writing words of solidarity for those who suffer injustice. Injustice is the enemy; not race. The minute that we forget that, we lose the fight.
My oldest son and I were talking recently, as he’s very fond of thoughtful conversations and debate. He asked, “Do you think that sometimes people go so far in one direction that they then become racists?” I responded: “Yes. The minute that you think that you have to save those being oppressed or mistreated, you have turned yourself into a racist because that implies a superiority over them. They don’t want to be saved. They want allies to fight with them to solve injustice and create a more equitable society. It’s not our job to save women or anyone else who’s fighting for equality; it’s our job to support their fight without demeaning any party. When you do, you lose the chance to inspire the change that you want to see.” He was satisfied with that answer and agreed.
This savior complex is what gets us in trouble. We keep thinking that people want us to save them. They don’t want some grand white angel to come down and save them from the world; they want your empathy and support to fight the issues that create this unfair world. We seem to have this need to think that we are in some way superior and that we need to save everyone. But it’s not about saving. It’s about changing those institutions that make life unfair. Racial profiling, shoot first/ask questions never. Lack of funding and support in low-income schools. These are the things that need to be changed. The practices that we have just accepted need to change. There’s no saving required. Just fight alongside those who are peacefully trying to change the world into a better place for all of us.