Dear Black People: I Believe You

I am a white girl. I mean that in every sense of the word. 

Yes, I am a Caucasian female. But I’m also a “white girl.” I grew up as a cheerleader in Ohio. I met my husband in our college marching band. We moved to a small town where he was active in the Elk’s Club and I taught music. I go to Starbucks multiple times a day, and my hair is currently in pigtails. I love the fall and its pumpkin-flavored everything. 

So when my husband and I adopted a baby with brown skin and kinky hair, we assumed race wouldn’t matter. Because all you need is love. And if we all just treat everyone equally, race won’t matter any more. Our daughter can grow up color-blind, right?

Over the last seven years we’ve learned how wrong we were. And it’s hard to be wrong. I want to assume everything is fine and that this is the age of equality. We have a Black President, right? This is a more comfortable place to live. Assuming that if we all treat each other with equality, everything will be ok. 

But if we look at racism as something that exists “out there,” we excuse ourselves from taking any responsibility. White people, it’s time for us to step up. 

Let me repeat that. 

It is time for US to step up. 

We teach our children that if a friend is being bullied at school, they should say something. They should believe the friend, and they should do what they can to help. We do not teach our children to tell the victim she should simply stop making such a fuss. We do not teach them to ask the friend what she may have done to deserve the bullying. We do not teach them to convince the friend that her problems do not actually exist. We teach them to look the friend in the eye and say “I believe you. This is wrong. How can I help?”

White people- our friends are hurting. They are being bullied. And it is time for US to step up. 

We need to set our white fragility aside. 

WOAH WOAH WOAH DID THIS CHIC JUST CALL ME FRAGILE? You don’t know me. You don’t know my life. 

Look. I get it. I didn’t want to hear it either. But the fact that the phrase “white fragility” makes people edgy is PROOF THAT IT EXISTS

Trust me for a minute. I know you don’t know me. But I seem trustworthy, right?

What if I told you that I have seen my daughter disciplined at school far more harshly than her white peers?

What if I told you that my friends from church- leaders in the church- have been stopped, all over the country, for Walking Or Driving While Black? Like, on the regular. 

What if I told you they’re hurting? Would you believe me?

Here’s the thing. Trust is a choice. Believing someone is a choice

What if we start with “I believe you. I don’t understand it. It doesn’t make sense to me. But I believe you. Help me understand. Tell me how to help.”

No more shutting down the conversation by trying to prove them wrong. Just listening. 

The past few weeks have shown my husband and I that we need to speak out and share what we’re learning. We’re hosting a series of talks on the Thoroughly Modern Mommy Facebook page. We were live last Thursday at 9:30 PM, and we’ll be live again this week at the same time. We’d love to have you join us. 

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