Saturday, September 20, 2008

A CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE IN AMERICA: A Look At This Year's Election


I am a white, 61 year old female who grew up in an affluent household in Seattle, Washington. I attended Roosevelt High School, graduated in 1965, and when you look at my year book (we called them annuals back then) you will see a sea of white faces, most of whom grew up in affluence like I did. Over 90% of my graduating class of 875 students went on to four year colleges and universities.

Now understand, I didn't know that we were affluent at the time. My parents worked very, very hard to give me the benefits of the "American Dream." They had not grown up in affluence, but they went to college, worked hard, and doors opened. I mistakenly believed, at the time, that everyone lived like I did. I wasn't naive or stupid, I just didn't "get" how my being white opened so many opportunities for me. I thought everyone was told from day one, "Of course you'll go to college. College comes after high school!"

I became a Christian at Malibu when I was 15, and this opened my heart to social justice issues for those less fortunate. During the race riots in Seattle, I was, much to my father's dismay, in a black church cleaning the pool they used for baptisms. Much of my life since then as an educator in a community college setting has been about serving others, not just myself. But can I really "get" what it is like for my sisters and brothers "of color"? Even though I attend a primarily African American church...I'm not so sure. I can hear the stories of my church family, and I can truly empathize with how hard it is, but do I get the daily journey they face? At 61, and after reading "Why Are All of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"... I think not.

This book is a mind twister, a heart hurter, and a "must read" more than once journey. It addresses the notion of "white privilege" in an articulate and perceptive fashion. It, along with a discussion on Racial Reconciliation with Scott Finnie last spring at a conference, has opened my eyes... again. As I watch this election unfold, and hear the media commentary, I am reminded of this book.

I never understood, and am only starting to understand now, how I have a daily privilege bestowed on me by the color of my skin. Now granted, I am female and have experienced gender bias. I have one hand and am used to looks and second looks. But I am white, and that is a different story altogether.

I am writing this blog post after reading another commentary about white privilege and how it is impacting this election. I am in no way an expert on this topic, however as someone who wants to reflect on this culture...here is another way to look at some current events.

It is certainly food for thought...about racism, double standards, white privilege, and how far we all still have to go until the "American Dream" is open to everyone!

If you want to learn more, check out this website:

http://www.redroom.com/blog/tim-wise/this-your-nation-white-privilege-updated

God Bless! Love Linda

2 comments:

LORIE said...

Linda, thank you for this post. Your honesty and humility are appreciated. I am a 34 year old, single parent, female, Asian American. . . . and I don't think I can fully understand white privilege or the struggle of other races in this country except Asian. I do know what it is like to be Asian American in a predominantly White community. I am and was immersed in the white, poor community even though my parents were considered middle class. We worked hard but had what we needed and probably mostly what we wanted. Our experiences will be a part of determining who we vote for in this election. I also hope others, like you, consider our fellow humans and their experiences. Thank you for this fantastic post.

jessithompson said...

I loved the post and the link to the other blog was incredible... what an amazing writer and thinker. Thanks so much for sharing.

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