I’m almost 44 years old and am just now starting to understand that I’ve ignored you my entire life.
Not until our current president was elected did I start to get nervous about my rights as a woman under the new administration. I’ve always taken it for granted – had the privilege of taking it for granted – that my government had my best interests at heart.
I didn’t know what it felt like to be unsure of my future at the hands of an administration who doesn’t understand, and has no interest in learning about, what I need.
I wasn’t racist, though. I’d grown up with parents who taught me to treat people equally. We volunteered at soup kitchens on Thanksgiving and Christmas, spent time with our church doing community service projects and supported Meals on Wheels. I was helping women of color the way I thought they wanted to be helped. How was that racist?
I wasn’t racist because I usually tipped women of color better when they were my waitstaff to prove I wasn’t like the other white people they might know.
I wasn’t racist because I saw the movie ‘Something New’ and loved it. A love story about a black woman and a white guy that even had a few scenes about race. I mean…c’mon. I’m one of you, right?
I wasn’t racist because I paid my housekeeper more than her official rate because I knew that her rate was too low. Look how progressive I am!
I wasn’t racist because I went to work for Habitat for Humanity after college. I spent time in Americus, GA building houses for ‘people in need’, which, in Americus, GA most often means black people. I got paid a volunteer striped of $40/month. How could I be racist if I was sweating and working my ass off to help people who needed it? I wasn’t secretly self-assured or smug, either.
I’ve been quick to point out racism in others while being completely blind my own.
I’m sorry for being blind to you: for lumping your needs and wants into the same bucket as mine and assuming they were the same.
Most of all I’m sorry for not listening. I’m embarrassed to admit that even as I was writing this, I was thinking, “I know! I’ll ask them what I can do – how I can help!”. I know, right? I want to punch me, too.
I’m not going to ask you. I’m going to listen to what you say. And I’m going to do that by reading and watching and being involved with both my community and the larger, global community of women.
I’m not woke, yet. I’ve barely opened my eyes. I promise to do better because it’s my turn.