• The Hopefulist

A discussion about racism

I have hesitated to talk about this for fear of judgement. I started by posting my support for change on my personal page and worried my friends and family would judge me or argue with me. Then I realized, if that was my biggest fear, then I am way ahead of the game. Black people go out into the world every day fearing judgement, harsh treatment and potential violence based on how they look. I realized the very least I could do is to speak up and pledge my support. To ask; "What can I do to help?" I want to understand better. I want to do what I can to be the change we are all seeking. It's been a terrible time in our country but I like to think that all of us are finally realizing how awful people of color get treated and we all want to see change.

Even if you have black friends you likely still have notions about how people of color are and the way you act around them. White people are taught to think black people can be dangerous. It's not a sit down and tell you how it is like it would be with a sex talk. It's more learned by observing, things that are said in passing and society as a whole. We are taught that big, black men are scary the same way we are taught that ghosts are scary. It is a learned behavior. I'm not pointing any fingers or laying blame. I'm just pointing out that this starts early and gets ingrained in us quickly. Do you cross the street when you see black people coming? Do you pull your purse a little tighter when people of color get close to you on a train or in a store? Do you have pre-conceived notions when going through a neighborhood predominantly made up with people of color. I have done all of these things. No one ever told me to...it's a learned behavior. It doesn't make us bad people, it just means we need to learn a new behavior. One that doesn't judge people by the color of their skin but by the kind of person they are.

This is what I've been thinking about since the killing of George Floyd. That black people leave their house everyday knowing they will be looked at a certain way. If you aren't one of those people, good for you, but there are many who will. Kids walking down the street more likely will get stopped and asked if they are looking for trouble. Sometimes that happens to white groups too. But from what I've seen it is far less often. People of color know they will be looked at a little closer while shopping in a store. They know they will be avoided out on the street. Even if they are a model citizen. It doesn't matter. They are looked at a certain way because of how they look...something they have no control over.

I read a story recently about a black man who went to fill up his wife's car with gas late one night. While there, he saw a woman in her car pick up her phone and make a call while staring at him. Officers come flying into the gas station and start questioning him about a robbery that took place down the street. They said he fit the description of the suspect. Which part he asked? It was a black man. That's all they had to go on. They were in the process of arresting him when a white man spoke up, saying he saw the man drive in from the opposite direction of the robbery. They finally let him go only because a white person spoke up on his behalf. Now, reverse that. Do you think police would let a white person go based on what a black person said about the situation? These are some of the things I am opening my eyes too.

Have you ever seen a person of color drive by in a luxury car and hear someone say; "I wonder where he got that." It's not likely the same is ever said about a white driver.

I saw a video recently that showed black parents telling their children how to respond when dealing with the police. Make sure your hands are seen at all times. Tell the officer you are unarmed and have no intention of hurting them. Is this a conversation white people have ever had to have with their children? I was pulled over a few weeks back when I glided through a stop sign. The officer said that I blew through a stop sign. I responded with; "well, I didn't blow through it. I didn't stop completely." Not only didn't he give me a hard time for talking back to him, I didn't get a ticket. Do you think it would have been the same scenario if I had been a woman of color?

Do not misunderstand this post. I am in no way anti-police. I fully support officers and appreciate all they do for the public every day. Just because there are a couple of bad cops doesn't mean they all are. I agree, 100%. This is what black people have been saying their entire lives. Just because you know some people of color who were bad seeds doesn't mean that all of them should be judged the same way.

I have been treated harshly by some black people in my life. I have been treated harshly by some white people in my life. I don't think any of the situations I have encountered justify a fear of living your life...thinking you could be killed at any time because of how you look.

We need to speak up when we feel something is wrong. We need to use our voice to make the changes we want to see. People of color have been trying to tell us this for many years. We haven't been listening. I think people are open to suggestions at this point judging from the amount of protests. I attended a peaceful protest in my neighborhood because I see the need for change. Tell us what you need. Tell me what you need me to do. I want to help.

You don't have to agree with me. You are entitled to an entirely different point of view. If you'd like please respectfully post your opinion so we can discuss it.

Meanwhile, it is Thursday. Now, go make today the very best it can possibly be.

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