Thomas Dyer: If you’re not part of the solution, by default you’re part of the problem
Your kids are not learning much through this distance “learning.” You can’t return to your job as a result because you need to stay home with your kids and your job got suspended anyway since it wasn’t deemed “essential” by your governor.
You didn’t cause Black lives not being mattered by the police. You don’t own slaves or put Black lives on a path to poverty or make them resentful of your success or cause them to be defensive as if you were out to hurt them.
What do these two conditions of our lives have to do with each other? I believe the answer lies in the general lack of awareness of others’ welfare within the society that we all live. In a word, selfishness.
Did you go out in public places without a mask recently? How about your kids? If your answer is yes, you might say “Oh, I don’t have COVID-19 and neither do my kids, so we didn’t cause the transmission of the coronavirus by not wearing masks or avoiding close contact with people outside our immediate family.” Well, what about your neighbors down the street or someone you don’t even know across town who did transmit the disease because they didn’t care about other people enough to wear a mask and practice physical distancing? Because some victims of the disease are asymptomatic, if the answer is yes from your family and your neighbors and the family across town, then you are all to blame for the spread of the virus.
Along with the righteousness of individual freedom that you wish to proclaim, all of you share a selfishness and a lack of responsibility, not just to your neighbors but to yourselves. Why can’t your kids go to school? Why can’t you go to your job? Because of you, your neighbors and that family across town you don’t even know. Cause and effect — did you miss that day in school yourself? That’s why this author wears a mask and maintains his distance from you.
You didn’t have anything to do with George Floyd’s death. Or Breonna Taylor’s, or Stephon Clark’s or … you haven’t done anything to harm any person of color. You’re not responsible for the Black family in the next block to not feel comfortable or safe enough to take an evening walk in your neighborhood, or knock on your door to sell Girl Scout cookies, or even enroll their girl in the local scouting program, or feel that have to be on guard for racist comments directed to them by you, your neighbors or the family you don’t even know across town. Your family doesn’t contribute to the racism exhibited by others. It’s not your fight, is it?
Well, that’s what white privilege means in the context of systemic racism. You enjoy the privilege of not having to deal with racism directed towards your family. You don’t have to get involved when other people contribute to the racism that exists in our world. But silence means acquiescence.
Racists will take your silence as permission to practice their contempt of people who look different from them. Unless of course enough of you call it out. Cause and effect. That’s why this author calls it out when he sees it, calls it out even when he doesn’t see it at the time (yes, I’m sometimes one of those holding a BLM sign at Brunswick and Sutton) and puts his money in places to back it up (Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, funding two scholarships to his high school alma mater for students of color, charter member of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture). I could go on.
By the way, I’m a retired white guy with no kids. But I care about you and your kids, your neighbors and the family across town that I don’t even know.
Do you care about people you don’t know?
Thomas Dyer lives in Grass Valley.
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