Yes, I know that is a controversial word. One that is greatly misunderstood by many, and the source of frustration for many others.
I also know that because of my privilege, Valerie Castile’s nightmare will never be my own. No late night phone call will pierce my heart, no frantic voice on the other end of the line will fill my head with words that don’t make sense, words I don’t want to hear.
Because, you see, my sons are white.
As the mother of white boys, I don’t have to worry about whether they’ll make it home safe. I’m not afraid for them to play with guns in the front yard or to run down to the neighbor’s house to play. I’m not afraid. And that is HUGE.
In an interview with CNN that was quoted in this Washington Post article, Philando’s mother said, “The key thing in order to try to survive being stopped by the police is to comply…Whatever they ask you to do, do it. Don’t say nothing. Just do whatever they want you to do…“ She went on to say, “I made sure my kids understood the difference between being law abiding, and that the police were there to help.” (bold & italics added).
How many of you have had conversations like that with your children?!
I. Never. Have. And I don’t need to…because of my privilege.
How many white churches have made public service announcements to help their men make it home safe? WE DON’T HAVE TO!! BECAUSE WE. HAVE. PRIVILEGE.
We have the privilege of not mourning. We have the privilege of not being afraid. We have the privilege of not being aware. We have the privilege of silence.
To borrow and take some liberty with the words of William Wallace in Braveheart, “What will you do with that privilege? Will you speak up? …Speak and you may face opposition, harassment, misunderstanding, or worse. Stay quiet and you’ll stay comfortable. For at least a while. But dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that to walk with your brothers and tell the world that they can complicate our lives but we’ll still be a voice for those who don’t have one?!”
I may not be a very effective spokesperson, or have a very big platform, but I refuse to be silent anymore. Will you join me? Will you help advocate for those who face a fear most of us will never understand? How, I don’t know. But we can find out together.