And I didn’t notice — The uncovering of my white privilege

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

I grew up arguing with conservative parents in a small town, Fallbrook, in the northern part of San Diego County, California. At first I wasn’t arguing out of conviction, but because by the time I was a teenager I knew the quickest way to anger my father and cause his angst was to ask questions like “why isn’t communism a good thing?” or “why shouldn’t people on welfare be helped?” He’d quickly take the ‘better dead than red’ side and mutter about ‘welfare queens’ and I’d use my nascent interest in politics to drive him nuts.

And I didn’t notice.

At that point in time Fallbrook had a short handful of Mexicans living in town. There were plenty of Mexicans working illegally in the avocado orchards, but most of them didn’t live where we could see them.

And I didn’t notice.

As far as I can remember, a single black man. And the fact I remember him that way was and is, I now know, telling.

And I didn’t notice.

We also had maybe a dozen kids from the nearest Indian reservation imported to our high school. My world was just about as white as it can get.

And I didn’t notice.

In college, at what was then Colorado State College in Greeley, Colorado, I met the first black people I ever got to know, even a little bit. I was fascinated, never realizing what my attitude said about me then.

And I didn’t notice.

It was 1960 and race riots begun as blacks began to respond to years of first slavery then flat out discrimination.

And I barely noticed and I certainly didn’t understand.

It took me more than 20 years to begin to come to grips with my own white privilege. It took a black and a white, one friend and one teacher, to lay it out in terms I could understand. One showed me how to work the welfare system when I needed it and the other gently laid out statistics and asked me questions like “What is it like to be white.” My list as a white woman examining my own race for the first time included:

  • I’m safe driving to a convenience store 24/7.

I began to notice.

My list could go on and on. My journey to see my own white previlege continues, and I work to not hide from it. On the bus I work to meet everyone’s eyes and not hide.

I continue to notice.

Like many white liberals I’ve been horrified by the growth of racism since the 45th President has taken office. Or maybe it’s not growth so much as an uncovering of what’s always been there. His treatment of blacks is as horrendous as it’s ever been. I am noticing, and writing, and working to defeat him in November unless it can be done sooner.

I’ve noticed.

When that so-called police officer put a knee to George Floyd’s neck for what, more than eight minutes — more than long enough for him to die — we saw the some of the worst of our racist country.

And I noticed and continue to notice.

While I have many other complaints about our government, they are not for here.

Here I want to simply state that I’m against racism and I stand with those who are discriminated against because of skin color. I do speak up, but not enough. So I will speak up more. And more loudly.

I will clearly state I’m opposed to racism, particularly that I still find hidden in myself. And I will continue to see myself as clearly as I can and let go of prejudice when I find it in my very left leaning soul. I hope you whites will join me.

Anne Wayman, writer and more.

Writer, life and writing coach, book ghostwriter, Grandmother, Buddhist. Liberal who listens to the other side, political activist-www.DemocracyCounts.org

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