White on Race

Milk 11/05/2014

I’m white. Where do I stand in the race conversation? Am I allowed to stand? Do I have to sit and meagerly wait with my hand in the air to be called on? Or can I stand firm and speak with confidence? Will I be talking to myself? Is my tone already making you uncomfortable?

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In early university days, my boyfriend at the time (husband now) asked my best friend to describe me. She said, “Kelsey believes in good. She loves everyone and thinks that every story can have a happy ending. Like a Disney princess, she’ll take the bad and try her hardest to make it good.” It has been about nine years since they had that conversation and some things have changed. I still believe in good. Life and experiences have made me reevaluate a few things, but I am an overall optimist. Always have been and always will be. I don’t love the Disney Princess reference, but the accuracy lies in the truth that I wake up with a fresh outlook everyday (occasionally singing with forest animals). So how does this relate to the topic at hand, race?

Let me talk to you about white privilege. It is real. I witness it everyday, I don’t even have to leave my driveway. While witnessing my white privilege, I also observe the harsh racism that my husband, friends, nieces, and sisters face. Racism comes across in the most insidious ways— in apathy, in deflection, in condescending tones, in ways you don’t expect. You will remain in a privileged white mental state and continue to be ignorantly racist, until someone brings it to YOUR attention. Luckily, I have these people in my life and my attention is always on the issue at large. So while I look like the Disney Princess aforementioned, I do have a brain and an understanding of the oh-so-necessary recent race conversations. Needless to say, I want to be a part of of the talk.

I’m angry at the race conversation because people assume I don’t have any credibility on the subject. Being the white person in a situation where one minority is making a racial joke about another minority, me feeling weird that I am the only one who sees so much wrong in the statement. And then I get weird looks for saying something because it made me uncomfortable. So, yes, there is something called white privilege, but once that ignorance is filled with knowledge and I become a person standing up for every race, where does that leave my literal whiteness? And just because you’re a minority, should you be making jokes about other races? The question and dilemma remain for me. I’m white, am I even allowed to talk about race? And who is allowed to talk about it between black inferiority and white supremacy? Asians? Latinos? Mixed? Can we have a productive conversation at all? I’m just saying people, that is what we ALL are, when can we expect to see some progress? Why does the world have to try to define my son by his skin color. Daddy is Jamenglican, Mommy is Irish/Dutch/French, Aunt Jada is Chinese-American, Aunt Saleen is Jamaican, Cousin Tashai is Black American, Uncle Marvin is JamEnglish, Uncle Ric is Colombian-American…and the list could go on and on. So, as people, can we all open our minds, ask questions, and discuss this never-ending issue? Let’s shine light on the issue and stop turning every media story into a black/white war.

Let’s talk. All of us.