By guest contributor Amy Post
Editor’s note: this essay originally appeared on the corporate blog of Amy’s employer in June, 2020. It is reprinted here with permission.
My name is Amy. I work on [our company’s] marketing team and I am the white mother of two really amazing Ethiopian American kids. Which means, yep, they’re black. And I’ll admit, right now my heart is heavy. It’s heavy because of the news we are all witnessing each day, but also because even writing this feels a little, well… strange. I say that because I am not black, and my white-ness doesn’t feel like “enough” right now to transfer the message that clearly needs to be heard by my white brothers and sisters.
However, I took a step back and thought about this after I was asked to contribute to this blog. I thought, “you know, maybe I’ve been part of the problem all along. Maybe white Americans like me just haven’t been saying enough when it feels uncomfortable, or when it’s not ‘PC’ enough for us to do so?” (Like writing all about your personal views on your employer’s corporate blog, for instance.)
So, I’ve been asked to provide some insight, and I’m going to do it even if it feels uncomfortable. Because that’s nothing compared to the levels of discomfort those in the African American community have been feeling their whole lives.
My son is 10, so he’s just beginning to come out of what I would describe as that “little black boy cute” stage. And don’t get me wrong, he’s still VERY cute, but he’s starting to look like a kid on more of that verge of the “tall, dark, and handsome” kind of cute. But although that sounds lovely at first, in my world, that’s not mixed with the typical frustrations about things like the upcoming acne breakouts and the nerves of having his first kiss. It comes with the daily anxiety of fearing that someone may hurt or kill him because of a judgement made solely based on of the color of his skin. After all, Tamir Rice was just 12 years old when he was killed by a police officer because Tamir was carrying a toy gun. That’s just two years older than my sweet boy. So, because of that, my kids are not allowed to play with toy guns.
Yesterday, I had to tell my son that when his best buddy (who is white) goes to Florida for a few weeks this summer, he needs to find another white friend to walk with him while he takes their dog walking clients out. (Yes, he’s a little entrepreneur! He has so, so much talent to offer this world and I want him to live a long and happy life doing all his heart desires.) And tonight, as I write this, we are getting ready to go on a golf cart ride through the neighborhood. I told my son to put a shirt back on despite the 87-degree heat, because I don’t want people thinking “he must not be from around here,” and make a stupid racist judgement because so much of his skin is showing.
Those are two examples just this week that are things mommas of black children have to think about and prepare for because of the world of racial injustice we live in. And I live submerged in a world layered in white privilege. I can’t imagine what it’s like for those who don’t.
The truth is, I’m not all that surprised by what’s happening in America right now. George Floyd’s murder gave a very shocking visual representation of those who were senselessly killed before him. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and hundreds more. White people are FINALLY noticing that we’ve taken our privilege so far that we’ve allowed humans to be massacred for crimes that, most often, wouldn’t have been substantial enough to put us in handcuffs.
Let’s be a part of changing the narrative by speaking up, protecting, and advocating for our black brothers and sisters.
To be clear, I do not condone riots and violence as a tool to solve this issue. And I fully support our law-abiding police officers who live out the oath they took to protect us. But I’ve been paying a lot of attention to these cases over the years, white people ignoring them and the peaceful protests that followed. I knew it would eventually come to a breaking point. Nothing peaceful was working, and unfortunately, I’m honestly not sure anything else would have. No one wanted to listen when Colin Kaepernick peacefully took a knee to raise awareness against police brutality. Instead, white people turned it into a fight against American patriotism, and the killings just raged on.
I do want to help we white people learn how to do better by writing this essay. So, if you want to change what’s happening in this world, here are a few simple things you can do right now:
Maybe even some of these, too.
Take action to understand things you don’t know about and learn how to be better.
And most importantly, please know that this is not the time to further a false narrative by saying things like “All Lives Matter!” Because that’s simply not true. All lives are not equal when one race is being targeted, vilified, and murdered by the other.
Please, let’s be a part of changing the narrative by speaking up, protecting, and advocating for our black brothers and sisters.