I sat in my car and cried the day the woman at walmart checked thru my bags after I set off the alarm and then contemptuously dismissed me when she couldn't find anything.
I didn't mean to, but my body was shaking, and stinging tears of embarrassment, confusion and hurt turned into sobs... the helpless feeling of not being able to prove my innocence was stifling... I wondered what other passersby thought, and wondered why she seemed so mad at me?? I wondered if, perhaps, my messy, paint-stained clothes were in part to blame? Or something else about me? Or was she just having a bad day or had to deal with so many thefts she just has to act like that??
But I never went back.
This sounds like such a pathetic story to share, in light of what others have endured, but it's one small way for me to realize my privilege.
What if this happened to me all the time?? I'm not even talking about the horrors of violence or fear for my life, but just the everyday, small, simple chipping away of one's self. Enduring sideways glances, people wondering if you're doing something bad, feeling like you don't belong, of not being believed, of not being able to prove your innocence, of feeling you NEED to prove your innocence...?? I can't even imagine. I would not handle that gracefully, I am sure. I would be angry, sad, skeptical, defensive.... hopeless. And so angry. So, so angry.
I hope I am not saying anything offensive here... I'm afraid I can't eloquently explain what I am feeling, but I wanted to share this tiny story with my white family and friends in the hope that we all continue to look at our own lives and start to realize what issues we haven't had to deal with solely because of the color of our skin. It is so easy to not see something when it doesn't affect us! And, sadly, it's usually easier to ignore than to think about.
I don't know what will come of recent, ongoing events... Our family has had many conversations about it, wondering what we can do, feeling tired and depressed and hopeless. One thing we are sure of, though, is that it is so important for us to talk to our son about it. To help him put himself into other people's shoes, to empathize with others, and to care.