Okay, so as many of you know, I live in Charlotte. This past week has been filled with sadness and pride. Sadness because of the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by a police officer, and pride in the fact that many protested this tragedy and made their voices heard. I planned a trip to visit my best friend in Asheville, NC and I traveled there over the weekend. Thankful for a place to vent my frustrations with the events of the week I stayed in Asheville, praying constantly for my husband and brothers and all those protesting back in Charlotte.
While in Asheville, me and my girls were walking downtown when a young white man stopped dead in his tracks after seeing us coming towards him. He was talking on the cell phone, but stopped talking and turned around and said “I just want to say that I love y’all and I don’t want anything bad to happen to y’all”. It’s not often that you’re told by a complete stranger that they don’t want anything bad to happen to you, but it was something different about him. He seemed apologetic about the shooting and almost a little guilty. He apologized like he did the shooting himself. We kind of brushed it off and high-fived him, but minutes later we were face to face with another white man saying the same types of things. He told us that it was all love and that he didn’t want anything bad to happen to us. While I felt super great knowing that these white strangers cared about my well-being, I also had a wondering thought that hasn’t left me since: I wonder if he’s telling his white counterparts that our lives matter. I wonder if he tells them that he cares about our well-being.
White guilt is when a white person feels bad about the racist actions of other white people against minority groups. This is often displayed to show the minority group that the individual experiencing the guilt is on their side. I’m positive that the young man felt guilty about the oppression of black people, but instead of displaying his grief and heartfelt apologies to me, he should tell his white counterparts how he feels. If he, or any other white person, feels guilty for the mistreatment and blatant murder of black Americans through the militant police officers of this country then he should express this to other white people. Black people alone cannot end systemic racism. It’s going to take all of us. In order to let our voices be heard louder in the streets we need all our voices to be heard. Displaying your sadness to me does nothing, but makes me feel nice in the moment.
While I don’t know what this particular young white man talks about or does in his spare time to rally for our movement, I can only hope that he’s just not feeling in the moment. Being black is something that I live every single day. Feeling in the moment doesn’t exist for me because I live in my black skin every day. I can only hope that those who feel empathy for us are also willing to rally beside us. Correct your friends who have negative bias against black people. Don’t let people talk bad about or mistreat us publicly and privately. Don’t just sit in your guilty feelings…action always speak louder than words.
All photo credit goes to my friend, Mario Turner. He is the owner of Leaking Every Vision Inside, located in Charlotte, NC.