This blog has always been a space where I’ve written a lot about my family, Disney, or any DIY projects that I might attempt to tackle. But I need to have a conversation that will make most of us extremely uncomfortable.
I’ve been sitting on this for a while. I talk about it with my husband almost daily. But for the most part, I’ve stayed silent publicly because I’m afraid my words will not articulate how I feel, or shun those that I truly call friends.
Let’s be real for just a minute. Women of color are hurting. They are hurting because they have shown up. They have been showing up for decades. They show up while many white women sit back and do nothing. There is a colorblind phenomenon going on and it’s not what you think it is. I’ve heard people say they don’t see color. I’m going to say that’s not true. I’ve seen color my whole life. My high school class had four people of color. Four. If you don’t think we noticed the four black people then I’m going to call you out and say that you are not being truthful. We noticed. And they certainly noticed. I notice color. My own children could not be more white. I notice how white they are because they are almost transparent. Not to mention their blonde hair and blue and brown eyes.
Being that white not only comes with privilege, but responsibility. And here’s where things are going to get a little messy. We are white. We have an obligation to use our God-given voice to make a difference. We do not have a choice to be silent. We have privilege. There is not a place in the world that we can’t go and not feel safe or protected because of the color of our skin. That is a privilege.
When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.
We recently traveled to Tennessee. I originally wanted to go to Memphis to see Graceland. We didn’t have much time in Memphis. So after touring Graceland, we went to the National Civil Rights Museum. It was a beautiful testament to the history of the black community; a real representation of death and tragedy and civil rights heroes displayed so people can remember. It was remarkably well done. But as I walked through this building, full of guilt and shame, I realized several things. The black community did not need this museum for them to remember the people and events preserved here. They remember these things every single day, as these stories are their stories. Selma, Bloody Sunday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, the Freedom Riders… the walls kept talking to us. Telling us these human stories. The history black people lived through. These are stories that white people of every age (not necessarily black people) need to see and hear.
As I kept walking though with my two children, we came across a photo of white women screaming at black women in a diner. I leaned down to my eight year old and said, “You need to know that you have a responsibility to be better. You have white skin. You need to use your voice to protect others who are treated differently because they do not have white skin.” She looked at me and said, “Mama, I would never treat anyone different, we’re all the same.” I pray and hope that if I do anything right as a parent, this is it. Help our kids understand that everyone should have basic human rights. But that inequality still exists, that it should not exist, and this takes work to fix. Because somewhere along the line, we haven’t been teaching this enough.
As we continued to walk on, something else stood out to me. I noticed it as we turned the corner to go from room to room. We were the only white people in the museum. From the time we walked in, to the time we left. We were the only ones. At one point I stopped and looked around, and I asked my husband, “how many white people do you think come to visit?” I wanted to ask the staff, but I didn’t because I felt like this was sacred ground. This place, this place full of history. Full of truths and reality. Full of black history. Once again, white people were not showing up.
Which leads me here. The place that makes us uncomfortable. We need to do better. Not just better, we need to be better. If you’re reading this and you don’t understand, then you are part of the problem. Because there is a problem. A big problem. I sometimes don’t see myself as part of the problem. But I am. And that too is a problem. I am white and privileged. I am not a good writer, but I have this space. And I have my voice. And I have my friends. There are around 50,000 people that come here each month to see what the best ride is at Disneyland or how to make a cake. But we have bigger issues that we need to tackle. We need to show up.
Women of color showed up. Women of color keep showing up. But women of color are frustrated. They are tired of trying to educate others. They showed up. They keep showing up. When are we going to show up?
I think we need to stop being colorblind. Being colorblind would only be a good thing if we were all equal. The problem with being colorblind is the same problem as the “All lives matter” counter-statement. It ignores that there is still inequality. It ignores that we still have a lot of work to do to get to a place where we are all truly equal. Own who we are and where we came from. Know what responsibility that comes with that. I don’t have the answers. There are different ways we can make a difference. Know when to be supportive and know when to use our voice. If we see someone being treated differently, let’s do something. We need to be the change.