In an essay gone viral that reminds me a lot of Peggy McIntosh’s legendary ownership statement about white privilege, Jeff Cook explains that racism was incorporated into the Wheaties he eat for breakfast every day in white suburban America. But, he says, this involuntary programming makes him not evil, but definitely ready for change.
It’s a great essay, full of keen insights into both the writer’s mind and the society in which we live. Well worth the read. Here’s an excerpt:
I lived a life marked by opportunity and forgiveness; and while I may not have always had “much,” I have always had the benefit of the doubt.
It is okay for me to admit this. It doesn’t make me evil. It makes me ready for change. This admission took two things: research and honesty. Over the last couple of years, I have read, watched, listened to and participated in countless discussions on the topic coming from a broad range of sources. Through this process I was able to realize the aforementioned realities. Which is great for me, but for purposes of this post, let’s unpack them a little.
I am uncomfortable with racial inequalities that exist in my country.
I live my life day in and day out and only rarely am I forced to confront these realities. Certainly the media, social and otherwise, shine a light on the issue, but that is not what I mean. Reading a powerful blog post or an inspiring tweet does not constitute confronting anything. What I mean is that when I get pulled over, shop in a store, go for a job interview, meet a new person for the first time, etc… I expect to be judged by who I am.
Yes, I am tattooed and bearded so I’m sure that on occasion someone generalizes about me, but I don’t worry about it because I know that once they get to know me they will move beyond those judgements. And I assume that they will eventually get to know me, because even with their judgement, they will give me the benefit of the doubt. I live my life benefiting from other people’s glass walls. That is simply not true for people of color. They are forced to confront it every single day. Perhaps not in an overtly bigoted and hateful way (although I’m sure that happens too), but in the “deficit of the doubt.”
I live my life benefiting from other people’s glass walls. That is simply not true for people of color….