By nothing more than accident of birth I came into this world a female member of the white race.
By nothing more than accident of birth and though not as privileged as white male members, I also came into this world a female member of a privileged race.
I have never done anything to earn this privilege and whether or not we want to admit it, none of us who find ourselves as members of the white race have.
I am the proud mother of six extraordinary sons and grandmother to one beautiful grandson. Over the past thirty six years I have worried about many things concerning them, but I have never worried that if one of them wore a hoodie down over his face while walking home from the corner store that someone might shoot him.
None of my sons has ever been the object of suspicion or been feared because of the color of their skin.
None of my sons has ever been pulled over or been detained by a policeman because of the color of their skin.
I am reasonably certain that if any of my sons ever found themselves in court that the color of their skin would not work against them.
I have not always been aware that I enjoy a privileged life merely because of the color of my skin.
I never in a million years would have thought that I could ever harbor a racist thought in my mind.
Yet one day I was sitting in my parked car on the side of a street in an unfamiliar city. While I was waiting for my husband to unload a few items from the back of the car, a group of about seven or eight young black men came walking down the sidewalk toward our car.
I am ashamed to admit that I had to fight the overwhelming urge to lock the doors.
As this group of young black men came closer I could feel my heart race. I could feel my blood pressure rising too, but I did not lock the doors.
As this group of young black men approached the car they separated into two groups and surrounded the car. I became even more frightened.
That group of young Black men walked right on by. They never paid us any attention at all.
I was afraid and my fear made me a hypocrite. My fear was a contradiction to what I believed about myself and professed to others. Being afraid made me feel as if I had betrayed my black friends.
Might I have been afraid if the group of young men had been white? Perhaps. Maybe I would have been just as frightened. Maybe not. I don’t really know!
But I do know that:
Fear does ugly things.
Fear does shameful things.
Fear does tragic things.
I am ashamed.
I’m so sorry Trayvon.
*Update* I realize that some may interpret the phrase, “By nothing more than accident of birth” that I do not believe that we are all created by God’s design. This is not accurate- I believe that God knew each and everyone of us before we ever came into being, and that He created us with a purpose. I used that phrase merely to point out that no one gets to choose what color their skin will be or what sex they will be. No one should be judged as better or worse than anyone else based on skin color or sex!
Over at Rage Against the Minivan, Kristen Howerton has a list of Required Readings On The Killing of Trayvon Martin and Wesley Hall wants us to know What It’s Like Being a Black Man in America
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