I have been struggling with what to do with my recognized “whiteness” lately. At the same time, I’ve been looking for opportunities to have conversations with my son and daughters about the relative ease of our lives, and the responsibility we have to lift up those around us and stand with them as they fight injustice. It is not always a comfortable discussion, nor is it easy to reprogram oneself.
As I delve into what it means to be white in this country, and in this century, it’s incredibly humbling to be faced with the fact that I have less struggle in my daily life than many others in my community simply because of my appearance. I didn’t ask for the legacy my white skin carries with it – but it is a journey of discovery that I believe is important to take.
My son made it clear that he is old enough to join me last night. We were watching some re-runs of Whose Line is it Anyway on YouTube, and at some point I said something about the skit and pointed out one of the men on the screen – Wayne Brady. When I was clarifying which of the three men he was to my son, I said “Wayne is the black guy.” A beat or two went by, and my bright, compassionate son replied “You could have said ‘the guy in the white shirt’.”
Why didn’t I say that? Why was skin color the first thing that came to mind?
We humans will always have the option of choosing the obvious to separate ourselves into groups based on delineators such as color, gender, religious faiths and language – but if we make the effort, if we endeavor to find the similarities between us and not focus on or fall back on the differences – we will be better for it, our children will be better for it, our nation will be stronger and we will all be more likely to find peace on earth.
It starts with me and mine.