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  • sherrisacconaghi

I See It Differently Now

"Mom, would you want to be a black person?" My sixteen-year-old son asked me earlier this week, catching me off guard, leaving me at a loss for words while I tried to come up with a mom-like answer. 

We have had some interesting conversations around here this past couple of weeks. I am grateful to be able to do so.

"I'm happy being a white person, "I answered non-committal, an unfamiliar discomfort snaking is way down my body.

"That's not what I asked," he said sounding like every therapist I have ever had when pressed on a hot topic. 

I knew what I should say. But that would be a lie.

"That's not what I asked," he said sounding much like every therapist I’ve ever had when I have tried to avoid a topic. 

I knew what I should say. But it would be a lie.

My son's question and the feelings it has evoked in me have been weighing heavily on my heart and head this past week.  I've struggled to do justice to my weekly Skinny-Truth blog post as this moment feels more significant right now, so am pivoting, for today, from my story. 

You see, until recently, I believed it was enough to treat people respectfully regardless of the color of their skin color. I thought I was doing my part by being equally kind, curious, or pissed off with people no matter what their race or gender identity. Like millions, I sat heartbroken and incredulous, watching the brutality of the George Floyd murder. I cursed the officer who cruelly took Mr. Floyd's life, and as it followed so closely behind the Ahmaud Arbery murder, it has caught my attention. Yes, I may be slow, but I would like to believe I am not stupid. I have begun to see things differently.

 Until recently, I found myself bristling at the term "white privilege," instantly getting my hackles up, ready to argue the point. Just because I'm white doesn't mean I'm privileged. The term made me feel as if my struggles were insignificant in some way. That I have not suffered because I am white.  

I see things differently now.   

I've been confused about why my mostly white social media friends were recommending books on how to be anti-racist and what that even meant. I am not a racist I thought; I have friends of color whom I adore, maybe others need to read those things but not me. 

 I see things differently now. 

All week I have been listening and reading about how white people need to do more to combat racism in this country. I've watched peaceful protests that have given me hope, violence, and destruction that have made me feel hopeless. I have laid awake at night, trying to figure out where I fit, and how can I do more. Thinking am I the only one that feels stupid for not knowing what to do?

I do not know what it is like to be a person of color in this world, and I realize I will never understand how that feels. So I have been afraid to say something for fear of sounding ignorant or worse, offending by an ill phrased sentence, or politically incorrect word.   

 I see things differently now.

 My experience is as a white person living in this fucked up world. A white woman who no longer believes that being kind is enough to combat racism and that staying quiet is useful. A white person trying to figure out how the hell to do something that will make this world, well, less fucked up.  

I am not one to protest in mass or post political or social justice opinions on social media, but that does not mean I can remain silent. I have decided to the one useful skill I have, my words, to join the conversation.  Hoping through the exchange of respectful expression that I might learn something I can do to make a difference. I will undoubtedly mess up, and I may unintentionally offend. Still, I'm willing to take the risk and stop worrying about doing something right and just start doing something. 

I am hopeful someday when a white child asks their parent a question about race preference, there might be a different answer, or better yet, perhaps there may be no context for the question at all.


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