“Just A 30-Something White Guy Trying To Understand and Be Woke”
A few months ago I saw a cartoon that showed a man sitting in a doctor’s office. The caption played out like this: Man - “I’ve got a broken bone.” Doctor - “Well, you’ve got 206 bones in your body. Don’t those bones matter too?” Man - “Yes, but this one is broken. Can we focus on that one?” While that may not be the exact words, I know it is close and I know what the writer was getting at. There is still racial division in America and there are still people suffering; specifically (but not only) black people.
The first time I remember seeing a person of color I was probably three or four years old when my mother took me, my brother and sister to a gospel church in downtown Seattle. While I vaguely remember the specific details (I was too young), I do remember a black woman picking me up and dancing with me while everyone sang and danced around. I remember dancing, smiling and having an awesome time.
I recently asked my mother about this situation; part of me thinks it may have been something I made up as the details were faint in my memory. After she confirmed this happened, I asked her why she took us there. She told me it was so we would feel like the minority and to show us while people may look different on the outside, they are people nonetheless. We grew up in a pretty white area and I think my mom was worried that we would grow up racist if we weren’t exposed to different ethnicities early on.
Where I’m at now is not a place I ever thought I’d be; mostly because I had no idea about all of the negativity and racism that is still very prevalent. I’m very glad I’ve been able to make the friends I’ve made and been more proactive at reading different articles from a number of different viewpoints to prevent any sort of bias. I’m trying to wake up and understand that there are people I know and care about that are suffering everyday and that this is something I can never fully understand. It saddens me that it’s 2017 and there’s still so much injustice in the world.
Now that I’m a father, I’m thinking of how I want my daughter to grow up without any sort of prejudice or racism. I do want to expose her to different cultures and people that do look differently than her so that she sees they’re really not different from her. I want her to have friends of all cultures and play and learn and be happy as though everyone is equal. I will do everything in my power to protect her from the negative mindset that anyone else is lesser than her for any reason, especially something as foolish as the color of one’s skin. I hope she can grow up in an America that is loving and understanding; that people will be treated as equals regardless of their race, religion, sexual preference or social class. I will teach her to love if it’s the last thing I do.
I now know first hand experiences of people that are suffering. These people are my friends. My friends are suffering. And not just them, their family and their friends are suffering too. I’m just one dude. Just one white dude. While I’m not going to single handedly destroy all racism and hurt, I know I’m not going to add to it and will do what I can to prevent it from spreading.
28 Days is a project about perspectives of people whose lives intertwine with the black struggle either personally or through others close to them. Along with their perspective they entrust us with what they hope for moving forward.
We hope this helps drive conversation, breaks down barriers and incites change.
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