If I wrote something about the protests, what would I even say?
I’m a white woman from Connecticut. I categorically do not know what black Americans experience. As a nurse, I’ve never walked into a patient’s room for the first time and been immediately hated by someone I’ve been assigned to take care of for the night. In fact, working on an extremely diverse unit, I was always the nurse who had to take the racist patient when they proved too vitriolic for the black nurse, the Indian nurse, the nurse in the head scarf. Once I walked in, white skin, blue eyes, blonde hair, all their animosity and general jackassery just blew away on a breeze.
I’ve been pulled over a handful of times. The one time I got a ticket it was dismissed in court. Part of my success, I believe, is my attitude. I’m honest. I speak with the officer like he’s just another guy doing his job. I’ve even gotten a few of them to laugh. Would the story be the same if I was black? I don’t know.
But I can guess. Just because I don’t know, doesn’t mean I can’t see. I can see what happens in front of my eyes, and I can see what happens systemically. I can see it in the history books, and I can see it in the news. Not only in the stories themselves, but the way those stories are framed. Crimes by white people are always framed as mistakes made by otherwise good people. Crimes by Black people are framed as criminal acts done by criminals. How many words does the media have so they can talk shit about black people without having to say ‘black people?’ White supremacists, in the past, had to be cagey in their hate because they knew moderate whites don’t like it, but mostly they just don’t want to hear it.
And that’s what I’m afraid of becoming. A white moderate turning away for my own comfort. Supporting the protests but only as long as they’re quiet and stop when I’m feeling uncomfortable. Hearing the dog whistles and pretending I don’t understand them. Voting for politicians who speak to my needs but not the needs of the people who have been hurt the most by a broken system. Ignoring how broken the system is in the first place. I didn’t want to write about politics, but sitting here the Monday after a long weekend of protests and writing a fun little piece about how everybody sucks at driving besides me felt like doing all of that.
If I wrote something about the protests, what would I say?
I’d say I see you. I hear you. I love you. And I will not turn away.