Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I wish the world was what I thought before I knew what I still don't understand now

I am priviliged. I didn’t know that when I was growing up. I thought the kids who were buying their clothes from The Gap were priviliged; not me with my Goodwill finds and Kmart specials. But I was priviliged even then.

As a child I understood racism to be a thing of the past. How perfectly normal that I had friends of all different ethnicities, that we all went to school together. Skin color was simply a descriptive feature: black, white, Korean… like hair color--black, brown, or blonde. I didn’t understand the stories of slavery in history class or why segregation had existed in my parents’ time. It was an absurdity. Practically a folk tale. How could that have been real, I wondered. I’m glad people figured it out, I thought.

But more and more I realize it isn’t all figured out. There is so much hurt and anger that I don’t realize from where I stand. The news stories that keep popping up around the country confuse me. There really isn’t another way to say it. I’m confused. I’m confused that people are trying to make their point with violence. But I am also learning how many other people are trying to make the same point peacefully. That media highlights the disastrous results of the few and not the quieter resolve of the others.

At least this is the point I see people making in my very limited way of viewing media--mainly from stories shared via Facebook of people I know and respect. I haven’t watched the news. I never watch the news. I never follow news stories online. I see my friends posting updates about their sadness over Baltimore, a city we grew up next to, so I seek out what is happening in Baltimore. But I don’t follow the story. After seeing a headline about riots, I mutter about the craziness and move on with my day.

Then I follow it only through what people share on Facebook and I see stories and photographs of people standing in peace. I see citizens trying to keep others from damaging police cars, looting, or attacking others. I see citizens cleaning up the debris. I also see my cousin’s office spray-painted with F--- Police. I see her husband’s car with windows smashed, tires flat, roof bashed in.

I see all these things. Different sides of a surely incomplete story. And I am sad.

I am sad that not everyone has as peaceful of a day as I am having. I am sad that there is a need for a hashtag #blacklivesmatter. I am sad that people feel hurt, angry, or less than. I am sad that any one person feels unheard or scared.

I am sad and I am confused and I am sorry that this world isn’t as simple as I once thought it was. This sucks.

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