Some Thoughts on the Tension in America

I am white.

I am male.

There, I said it. But I won’t let these facts override one other.

I am a person.

It hurts me to write this but at this point in time I feel I need to.

I have done racist things in my life. I have locked my car doors when driving through predominately black neighborhoods in Milwaukee. I have crossed the street when I have seen a small group of black men standing on the sidewalk among others things. Why? I wasn’t under any threat. I certainly wasn’t being eyed with any suspicion. What I did do is allow myself to perform these baseless actions which were taught to me by a society that is…

…predominately white; predominately male.

What I did, I did out of ignorance and thoughtlessness.

I apologize.

But these are not irredeemable. I can be taught out of my ignorance. I can come to the realization that there is white male privilege, as a first step. I can learn that while my privilege exists I can see it for what it is. A corruption in our socio-economic, justice and political systems that are truly not equally accessible by all people in America. I can work to change these from within, as far as I can with the abilities I have.

I can have no idea what is like to be a black man in America. That would be arrogance of the highest degree and I won’t be a part of that. But I choose to see that inequality and injustice exist. I choose to work against it. But one inescapable fact remains.

American lives are being lost and being treated of less than value of others; fewer opportunities given. Is this a means of control? I’m not in a place where I can make that call.

Michael Brown is a symbol for our country, so is Darren Wilson but more so the events that occurred between the two. That is the symbol of where we are as a society.

President Obama, Eric Holder and others in positions of power can at best guide the country. But change, real change, for the county can only come from individuals.

I choose to change.



One thought on “Some Thoughts on the Tension in America

  1. It’s interesting that you use that example as a time you were racist. I have held my purse tighter when alone in a parking garage, I have wielded car keys between my fingers like a weapon when alone in an elevator with a stranger. Except it usually doesn’t matter the race – it just matters that it’s a man. Most feminists claim we do this because men think women are objects to be conquered and claimed, because women are taught to defend themselves rather than men being taught not to rape. Because women are burdened with a responsibility to avoid assault.

    It’s just interesting to me that being fearful of others makes you prejudice in one case, yet makes you the victim in the other. I guess a white male doesn’t really have a “reason” to be afraid of strangers like a woman does, and that’s where the distinction lies – especially if that fear doesn’t extend to seeing fellow white men on the street.

    I choose to recognize privilege and to use myself as a platform for diverse voices (without, ideally, talking over them). It’s a really important thing to be aware of as a writer. We can’t/shouldn’t speak for minorities, but at the same time, we have a duty to blend more diversity into our fiction. I think the best way to do this is to simply include diverse characters in our stories without making them soapboxes for minority issues. Visibility is one of the biggest steps to universal acceptance. For example, the Marvel movies do a pretty good job of this. In general, the women and nonwhite characters are simply well-rounded human beings who will create a shift in public perceptions by existing and being who they are.

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