I'm so white that when adults see me out in the sun they worry about me. This simple fact means I have a lot of advantages. I don't have to dress up, attain a certain level of education, or do much of anything to keep people from looking upon me with suspicion, judgement, or disdain. I don't need special laws or policies to ensure I have opportunities or rights because of my race. This is called privilege.
My state was a slave state. A lot of the restaurants in our town here in NC used to have a designated door or
window where "colored people" had to go get their food because they were
not allowed to eat inside. When my dad went to elementary school, he was one of the first to go to an integrated public school here. There is a college near us called A&T, which was the "black college" at one time and where African American traditions still are celebrated, but many people of all races attend now. You will find people of all races working side by side now. You can go to a restaurant here and see people of different races eating inside together now. There are no more slaves and no more segregated schools, not officially anyway. We even have a black President. This means there is no more racism, right? Wrong.
Members of the Supreme Court seem to think the racial prejudice that made the Voting Rights Act of 1965 necessary has magically
disappeared. This is not true according to the voices I've listened
to. When people say others are not treated differently when they walk into a business because of the color of their skin, this is not true according to the voices I've listened to.
When people say others aren't chastised for their the fashion choices because they are popular with a certain race, this is not true according to the voices I've listened to. When people say they don't treat members of a race differently when they achieve a certain level of education or attain a certain level in their career, this is not true according to the voices I've listened to. When people say getting jobs or being promoted in those jobs isn't harder depending on a person's race, this is not true according to the voices I've listened to. When people say injustices are not committed by law enforcement or the
courts because of the color of someone's skin, this is not true
according to the voices I've listened to. Notice I did not say voices I've heard, but voices I've listened to.
I have black friends. That doesn't mean I'm not a racist. I believe that people of all races should have the same rights. That doesn't mean I'm not a racist. I'm willing to talk about race. I'm willing to admit that there are things I don't understand yet about what people of other races experienced in the past and experience now in their daily lives. I'm willing to admit there are things I will never understand about race since I was born with privilege simply because of the color of my skin. When people express the hurt and frustrations they feel in their daily lives, I take them seriously. When people ask for my help supporting laws or policies that will give people a more equal opportunity, I help them. I don't feel like they have an agenda, are tying to take something without earning it, or are trying to take rights or opportunities away from me.
In order to be anything, you have to put forth effort, not just words. In order to have a friend, you have to be a friend. In order not to be a racist, you have to be willing to admit sometimes you say or do things that are racist and be willing to apologize and try to change when those things are pointed out to you. In order to understand where you're going, you have to understand where you've been.