I think I want to write something about race but I’m not sure where this is going to go. I just finished watching Bernie’s speech from today and I read a lot of MLK quotes today. I also got to hear DeRay Mckesson speak on Friday night so race has been on my mind all weekend. Hearing DeRay was really neat. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and he could have talked 3 more hours and I would have loved it. Here’s a quote from MLK that I really enjoyed:
“Whenever the government provides opportunities and privileges for white people and rich people they call is ‘subsidies.’ Whey they do it for Negro and poor people they call it ‘welfare.’ The fact is that everybody in this country lives on welfare. Suburbia was built with federally subsidized credit. And highways that take our white brothers out to the suburbs were built with federally subsidized money to the tune of ninety percent. Everybody is on welfare in this country. The problem is that we all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free enterprise capitalism for the poor. That’s the problem.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
I really like this because he not only highlights how racist the system is but also how classist it is. The big thing I took away from DeRay’s talk was how the system has to change. America was established when slavery was still a thing so of course being White makes life easier today still. I’m sure there are lots of reasons why but just things like the chances of my grandparents having good jobs and owning homes is much higher because they are/were White. And I’ve benefitted from that. DeRay also talked a lot about White privilege, which was good for me to hear. I always appreciated the love and support of my family and people around me but my race has also made life easier. DeRay says he gets a lot of White people coming up to him and saying, “I worked my ass off to get where I am today. I didn’t benefit from White privilege.” And he’ll answer back, “Did you work to make band-aids match the color of your skin? To make the color ‘nude’ a peach/Caucasian color?” And he listed a couple more examples I can’t think of right now. It’s not our fault the system makes it easier to be White but now we can work to change the system.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with Natalie about a month ago after we saw Local Natives. We were walking after the show and she made a point about how White Local Natives are. And I said yeah but at least they’re activists and do a lot of good for women and minorities. And she pointed out how that’s a very White thing to do. People who are fighting for others are privileged people and have the luxury to worry about other people and fight for them. The parent just trying to get by at work and raise kids and pay all the bills doesn’t care what is happening to people in Iowa or California. That conversation kind of made me feel a sense of responsibility to use my privilege to fight for others or volunteer. I don’t do that much activist stuff now but hopefully I am down the road.
I don’t really have a conclusion. I don’t feel like I did a good job of getting all my thoughts down but oh well. Hopefully I can look back at this one day and see that I was on the right path.