In Dave Chappelle’s concert “8:46” he opens by thanking young protesters in the streets today – carry on, young ones, he says. You’re good drivers, I’m comfortable riding in the back seat.
I so got that comment. When I watch the protesters in the streets of our major (and minor) cities and towns, I feel exactly the same way. Go on, young people, keep marching. I am comfortable in the back seat with your driving the wheels of change toward a time when equality and justice for all are reality – not just words on handmade signs. Keep at it, young ones, until you reach deep into the heart of every person full of hate, pluck the racism from the blood that flows through it and close the wound in a river of true righteousness.
By the way, make sure you vote in November. We need you to march all the way to the voting booths.
White women, I support you, but shut the f— up. Whoa – what’s that you say, Dave? Ouch. Now that was a little too close for comfort. I was all about you until we got to that comment. Thank goodness for Dr. Laura – since she was one of the prominent white women Dave was talking to and about, right? At first, I was startled by the comment. Then I remembered no one was safe from Dave Chappelle’s surgical cuts. I went from a sharp intake of white privilege breath to a moment of quiet realization that he meant me, too. Thank you for the support, Dave – truly. I know you are sincere.
I also know for sure I do not know the pain of those marching in the streets to claim their identities. I do not know the pain of black women who have lost their sons to police violence, black women who fear for the lives of their children every time one of them leaves the house. I do not know the pain of siblings who have lost siblings at the hands of those sworn to serve and protect them. I do not pretend to know this kind of pain.
But white privilege? Me? Yes girl, you, said Pretty who tries her best to make me a better person. But remember, Pretty, I’m a white l-e-s-b-i-a-n. Don’t I get a little extra credit for having that double dip scoop on the ice cream of discrimination? Doesn’t count in this cone, Pretty says with finality. Of course she’s right. Sigh.
For more than seven decades I never owned the term white privilege because I came from a poor family growing up in the back piney woods of southeast Texas. I saved my college money from running six cows with my daddy and grandfather when I was a child. My allowance from my daddy in college was $25 a month. Sometimes he was apologetically late. My first jobs after college were in a rich man’s world of systemic oppression of women financially and every day in the workplace. I didn’t think being white gave me good fortune.
And yet, it did. The older I get, the more I am aware of the racial divide I started out with in my little segregated red brick schoolhouse in 1952 that happened to be on one side of a single street in a dusty southeast Texas town of 500 people where the other side of that main street held a white wooden schoolhouse full of children whose grandparents and great-grandparents were slaves.
Time for me to shut up.
Stay safe, stay sane and stay tuned.