ImPerfect Blog

Life Without Color: Being White

I have a few things I'd like to share. 

I've had enough.

I am no longer willing to silently accept these manifestations of violence and hate. 

We need a mindshift in ourselves. 

I am willing to stand out. 

I have to stand up. 

As a 'white' women in our day and age I am pretty much safe anywhere I go. 

That is something I do not take completely for granted. I understand that I have this freedom (privilege) today due to a history that took advantage of many lives. Generations of lives and even entire cultures have been destroyed in the wake of colonization. 

In all honesty, I am privileged today because of the legacy of genocide, of colonization, of domination, of power, of control, of violence in words and actions that are 'white history'. And as we are taught in school, white history is American History. Blacks, get there own special month for 'their' history, which again is not ours.

Isn't it interesting 'white' history is so 'black' when you take the meaning of black to mean unclean, dark and evil and white to mean pure, ideal and godly. 

There is no legacy of white pride and if there is its called White Supremacy and only links my skin to the ideals of people who at some point dropped their humanity and drank the poisoned lie that humanity can be sectioned out labeled and sold as possessions.

Are we are not all Humankind? Can't we be both?

No, I don't come from a legacy of ancestors that sing about how 'we shall overcome'. I have witnessed the African American community find strength in their racial groups legacy of resiliency and strong sense of togetherness. 

That is not my story.  The legacy of whiteness is to shut up and be quite. I was taught to comply. Whites don't want to face the hard truth that each and every 'white person' is privileged to opportunities others are not afforded because of the maliciousness of our ancestors.

Even if it wasn't my family who perpetrated such acts, I still benefit from the innumerable grievous acts of people who looked like me. The stories are endless and there are generations upon generations of violence and dominion.

It's painful to acknowledge this.

I know I am not worthy of privilege based on my appearance. 

On the other hand, I know I am worthy because I exist. 

I do not 'hate my whiteness' although, part of me used to hate my whiteness. I am privileged because of the legacy of genocide, of domination, of power, of control of violence in words and actions.

I wish we had another story, one of peace and beauty and love, because that's what I know I am. Thats what i know we all are. Yet that does not seem to be there story we have written, although I am ready to pick up the pen and write a new ending.

I am willing to look in the mirror and see the blood on my hands. I am willing to kneel to the ground and acknowledge the bones of generations I stand on. I am willing to ask for forgiveness for something I could never control, yet benefits me every day.

You see, I have had the benefit of being born into a body that appears to be the 'ideal'.  Blonde haired,  blue-eyed and slender. Sounds like the image of perfection in our society. Sounds like the image of perfection in Nazi Germany too. Perfect.

Perfection is too lofty a goal to reach. I have tried and I failed to reach perfection, because I was taught that if I live and behave 'perfectly', then I'd be happy.

FLASHBACK: Freshman Year Hight School: 
I remember sitting in history class at 14 years old, my teacher had come to school dressed as Hitler to give us an experience we'd never forget. There was one black girl in my class who usually sat behind to me. She wasn't even allowed in the classroom that day.

As for me, I knew I was safe. I knew I was safe only because of how I looked. I am a white, female, with blue eyes, so long as I didn't say anything offensive I knew I'd be safe. Kids were taken out of the class, one by one, for making remarks, or asking questions that weren't acceptable. We hear the 'beatings' being taken out on the lockers! I knew everyone was only pretending, yet it gave me a real sense of how fear can drive us to silence. I recognized that I wanted to 'live', so I stayed silent too.

When I first learned about race and about American history, I learned about slavery and colonization, and about the genocide of Native Americans. At 12 years old, I realized that I look like the people who perpetrated these grievous and heinous acts. 

I didn't have anyway to voice my identification with this group. I didn't have a way to voice my shame. I was young. We didn't talk about how the legacy of our shared history effects us today. I did'nt know how to deal with the feelings I was having.

My teachers presented historical facts and we spit back dates and locations on tests. That was history and I hated it. Nothing truly important was shared, nor learned (nor healed).

Even at 12 years old, I could recognize that I didn't feel like I deserved privileged.  I actually felt unworthy of the privilege I could see that I had.
I remember thinking, why in the heck would anyone be deemed better than anyone else? How could I judge the worthiness of anyone? It never made sense to me so, I never accepted that reality of my own superiority. Yet I live in culture that sells us white supremacy every day, and I benefit from it in countless tiny and not so tiny ways.

So instead of thinking I was superior, I internalized my own shame and feelings that I was indeed unworthy and proceeded to adopt a belief that I must earn love. I would not accept that love be given to me because I looked a certain way. I would not accept love be given to me just because i am me. I let the shame seep in deeply, because I knew I was not worthy of any special privilege. 

This belief system manifest itself in my life through a very unhealthy relationship. I spent 10 years in an verbally and emotionally abusive environment because I believed in my own unworthiness. I believed I was not good enough as I am, so when the man who would become my husband labeled me worthless I knew he was right. And I stayed with him.

I buried myself in his reflection of my own deep seeded unworthiness. I had no voice in his presence, I had no value. Unitl I found dignity. 

Dignity is your innate state of being worthy.

Dignity is everyones innate state of being worthy!!! Everyone!!! Everyone!!!

Dignity changed my life, becasue I finally realized that I could step out of my old belief system of lack and regain my own power. I eventually was able to heal and step out of my belief in victimhood too. It has been a long process, and I'm still working on it, but I realize now that I am not useful to my brown sisters and brothers if I hang myself on the tree next to you.

I need to use what was given to me to help free us all. It's like those without access to clean drinking water. I believe its a humans right to have access to clean drinking water everyday. I don't believe that just because I am afforded the privilege of a faucet and clean running water and some are not means that I need to start drinking from the toilet, until we all have fresh water. No! I need to use my power to help those in need. And I need to start doing a much better job at it! 

So I see how I've given up my power for years. I see that I don't deserve special privilege, yet I have it anyway. I see that its in some ways its been my choice to suffer. I define suffering as trying to change things that are out of your control.

I have tried to change so many things that I could not change. I have tried to change people, and I could not do it. I have tried to make people believe different things, it never worked. I don't want to suffer like that anymore. And I gave up fighting. It only hurt me when I fought before. So how do I stand up now, and do what I can, and not suffer, and not fight?

What I have is love and faith and a belief in dignity for all. Those are my only weapons. Maybe honesty, patience and temperance are weapon too. I'm not sure. But I know for a fact I walk in faith!

I have found that when I walk fully in faith's path I only know one step at a time. So this is my first step, and all I know is where to start: right here on this blog, sharing myself honestly and imperfectly, and acknowledging touchy subjects we don't speak about . . .  things I've never said publicly before. . .  things I'm ashamed of.

First I acknowledge the dark legacy of white privilege and white supremacy in our country.

I acknowledge that I feel ashamed of the legacy of my whiteness.

I want to be clear that I do not feel ashamed of being white (I have no control over that). I do however feel ashamed of how I benefit from what those who looked like me did in the past, how they went about doing it, and how I benefit from that behavior now.

I believe:

Words matter. 

Actions matter. 

People matter. 

Life matters. 

This is why I must say black lives matter. Because black men are being shot (and killed) and officers don't know why they are firing. 

I must stand up because black men are seen as a threat simply for being born with skin. 

Isn't everyone born in the image and likeness of God... or is that just reserved for old white men? I guess if you believe God is an old white man then that explains why white male lives matter more. 

Thank you for listening. Even if you disagree.

Thank you for listening, especially if you disagree!

I love you, Lindsey