I read an article written by an acquaintance of mine. A young woman that was raised in the same neighborhood as me, urging our community to wake up to the Black Lives Matter movement.
And open my eyes she did.
I was wracked with shame after reading her message. Because I grew up in the same neighborhood and it never dawned on me to take a moment to understand the white ideology it was established on.
That is my privilege.
It is our duty to our black neighbors, friends, family and loved ones to take pause and consider the picture we are painting when we choose to name a street ‘Plantation Drive’ or ‘Brown School Court’. It is imperative that we take the time to educate ourselves on the weight that these words carry when paired together. As white people, this is not our immediate reaction, but once again, that is our privilege. In the eyes of our black neighbors, these words are laced with their battles. With slavery. With segregation. With their history that was caused by our actions.
Brown School Ct. was named after a school teacher named Mr. Brown. So why wasn’t the street named ‘Mr. Brown St.’?
I encourage you to read her message. And then I dare you to take a long, hard look in the mirror. To sit with the emotions that emerge. It may be painful. I can assure you it will be uncomfortable. You may even experience guilt and shame and remorse.
And then I pray that you remember that no matter the feelings that creep up for you, you will never know the pain of walking out your front door prepared to fight simply based on the color of your skin.
And that is your privilege.
It is no longer enough to say we didn’t know. It is no longer enough to say our intentions were pure. It is no longer enough to say that we are not racist.
That is our privilege. Acknowledge it. Own it. And do better.