Sunday, July 17, 2016

Baton Rouge Reaction

I am a middle aged white guy who grew up solidly in what was once considered the middle class.  Can I truly understand what it is like to be black in this country?  Probably not.

But, I grew up in a small multi-cultural community. Easton in the 60's was like a little Brooklyn.  Everybody did not always get along but we tried.

I have spent more than 32 years of my life with a black man and I have seen how he is treated by white people.

I have had co-workers/people say to me "Well... I don't really think if him as black"  When I asked what they meant they said things like "You know he just doesn't act black"  I of course asked what does that mean and "Well you know he...."  They really don't know how to explain it and then of course they to a person got angry that I was suspected them of being racist. They were and they are.

He is black and he knows he is black every time he looks in the mirror.  He is more likely to get pulled over by the police and, he is more likely to get followed by store security than I am.

When we were younger I remember white women clutching their handbags a little closer to their bodies or crossing the street when the saw him.  On more than one occasion I noticed white women clutching their bags and then seeing me at his side lightening up their attitude because clearly if he was with a twinky white boy he was not going to steal their handbag or worse.

I have been there when people tell racist jokes but because "he doesn't act like a black guy"  they thought it was OK.  What does that even mean "he doesn't act like a black guy"

I am trying to understand why police pull over black people at a higher rate than white people.

I am trying to understand why black people get longer sentences than white people.

I am trying to understand why black students are sent to detention more times than white students.

Racism is alive and thriving in this country.  You can't deny it.  In fact, I challenge you to deny it.

But, before you do.

Answer this question.

If you are a white person in this country; Would you want to live your life or raise your son as a black person in this country? 

If so, tell me why. 

This was inspired by todays news out of Baton Rouge.  I am in no way trying to justify the slaughter of police. 

And, sadly I have no answers and that is extremely frustrating.


  1. We had a talk with our kids at breakfast this morning about white privilege. We tried to explain to them that the hardest thing for most white people to understand is that the privilege is about bias, and not wealth. My daughter understands that her brother has a bit more privilege than her because she's a girl. They also understand it enough to see the bias in other situations.

    My husband may have come to terms with his own bias earlier than me because of where he grew up. I recognize my own bias through being open to self awareness. Having friends that share their stories of being denied opportunities, awakened me. Being white and educated, I will always be given the benefit of the doubt.

    The next step for me is to be responsible in my own thoughts, words and actions. I have access to brilliant writers and thinkers, and a circle of people who are patient with my learning. I share these awakenings with our kids.

    What I hope for most of all, is that if I'm in a conversation with someone who doesn't understand their own bias, I will be able to articulate clearly what I've learned without judgement.

    We cannot fear conversation with others. Although I must admit, I am very fearful of some conversations with certain people.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting
      I have seen you and your husband up close and I have no doubt that your children will be thoughtful and compassionate adults. They will try really hard to understand the world and how it works.
      Like your husbam my coming to understand my white privilege happened very young because of where I grew up and how diverse my social circle was and because my parents insisted on us living in the larger community

      Will I fully understand what it is like to be Black in America, probably not but like you I have to keep trying to better understand the world I live in.