I’ve never had to worry about being accused of stealing because I lingered in a convenience store. I’ve never worried about finding an affordable place to live in the neighbourhood of my choosing, surrounded by folks who look like me. I’ve always been able to flag down a cab when I needed one, and I’ve never had to think twice about walking down the street with a hoodie on.
I’m white — and if anyone here thinks that this has nothing to do with that, then please, carefully take note and be open to feeling uncomfortable in your whiteness (should that be the case), or kindly excuse yourselves from this space.
Everyday I look through my newsfeed and I’m appalled. I’m appalled not only by the heinous, racially driven crimes being committed by civilians, but by those whose purpose it is to serve and protect. I’m also appalled by my fellow Caucasians’ shameful ignorance when denying their white privilege — taking offence when someone states that black lives matter, as if somehow this means that theirs don’t.
I have black friends. We’ve all heard that line — but I do, really, and it never made me think that deeply about racism. In fact, even having a black husband didn’t really open my eyes like one might imagine it would. I’m telling you this even though it makes me feel ashamed and embarrassed by my own personal ignorance.
I only realized it in the past few years — how easy my life had been. Sure, growing up fat came with its own set of difficulties, and I’ve felt sorry for myself on many occasions, but it’s nothing compared to the hurdles faced by those who are growing up black.
My epiphany came when I had my youngest son. See, I have four children, two of whom are white, two of whom are mixed. My 12 year-old daughter is 1/4 black, and although she is incredibly proud of her heritage, and does not hesitate to proclaim her blackness — with her pale skin, dirty blonde, wavy hair, and light blue eyes, she is not visibly black. My four-year-old son, however, is.
Before him, I never had any fears sending my white children off to their white school, in our white neighbourhood. I never had to go shop in that tiny, dusty “black products” section of Walmart to find something to untangle their natural hair. I never had to worry that, because of their skin colour, someone might try and hurt one of my babies.
I am speaking from underneath the veil of white privilege, this is without question, and my experiences will never be the same as those of a black mother, but I am terrified to even imagine the ache of seeing my child face discrimination, struggle to overcome prejudice, or the heartbreak I would feel to lose him because he was walking home from the store, while black.
Recently, I discussed exactly this, with good friend, and blogging beauty, Ramona, of Tall Tales by Ramona O. In fact, we talked about a whole lot of things concerning white privilege, racism, and unity. We decided that since we’d be meeting up in New York City last weekend, that we’d use our time there to put together a collab – something meaningful, about more than just fashion and plus size style.
As I rolled into New York, I turned on the news in my hotel room only to hear of the horrible Charleston Massacre the day before. It was a huge reminder of all my discussions with Ramona, and of how much we need change.
As a woman who was born with, as the brilliant activist and writer, Pia Schiavo-Campo states in her article for Ravishly, “the kind of unearned privilege that keeps you from being harassed or gunned down by police officers” — my role in fighting racism is important, and regardless of your skin tone, so is yours!!!
Show how you believe that Black Lives Matter! Silence is consent, so be vocal, get in people’s faces, and don’t stand for any racism, no matter how “innocent” it may seem. Get educated on black culture and racism if you’re not, and educate others if you are.
Be aware of your own attitudes, and if you’re white, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to show your support for unity — because I am willing to bet… there is no comfort zone for black Americans who are watching their brothers, sisters, sons & daughters, families, friends, and community members being racially profiled, discriminated against, beaten and shot down because they are “the wrong colour.”
And here are some great pieces to help you learn more on white privilege and racism:
5 Ways to Unpack White Privilege: The Tess Holliday Incident by Pia Schiavo-Campo
And you can also check out all of Pia’s blogging amazingness on MixedFatChick.com.
Mesh crop top, Penningtons – here
Lace bralette (under), Addition Elle – here
Skirt, Forever 21+ – old, similar
Shoes, Jessica Simpson from Addition Elle – old, love these