As a fifty-seven-year-old college-educated white male from an upper-middle-class family, I have had all of the advantages in my life. I freely admit this is true. I went to a series of good schools, didn’t have to worry if I saw a police car, didn’t have any gang violence in my child-hood neighborhoods. Everywhere I lived, I felt safe to go out at night.
I was completely oblivious that it was possible not to live like I did until I was well into high school. I was so sheltered and ignorant that it never occurred to me that having a different color skin or parents that weren’t college-educated professionals could make a difference in how you lived. It was during high school that I made friends that were not part of my safe little world. Even then, it took several years to break through my myopia. Even when I saw that there were differences, I didn’t actually see the differences. This lack of vision is I think the biggest problem for many people in similar positions, they see past or through what is happening in front of them.
So, why am I writing this article? To make myself feel better? Oh, hell no, if anything digging up these memories has made me feel worse. Remembering what a complete ass I was until I was in my late thirties. I am writing this to say to all of the people in the position where I was and am. Stop lying to yourself. It doesn’t matter how “woke,” you think you are, how “colorblind,” you think you are, how progressive you are. You are part of the problem, be part of the solution. Recognize that you are privileged and try to take the blinders off. It’s hard, sometimes impossible. We are all the sum of our experiences, and people like me don’t have the experiences to understand what the outsiders of society experience. All I can do is see those experiences from the outside then try to mitigate the effects of my and others’ privilege has on these people.
The problem is that this takes time, and I don’t think we have that much time left. If I were one of the outsiders looking in at the privilege, dealing with the daily risk of a beating, rape, or murder by the various forces that are supposed to protect society, I would be thinking about stronger measures than peaceful protests. Especially when the reactions of many people like me are to call them rioters or looters, look, morons if you are my age, you have lived through real…