To my fellow white people

To my fellow white people

For days now I have been trying to find other words for my speechlessness. Inarticulate, dumbfounded, voiceless, mute. My soul feels all, and more. Yet I find it important to finally sit and try to put into words, the emotions that seem to engulf me in every moment of these past few days. First, to my black friends, peers, and strangers I have yet to meet. I am sorry. I am sorry that this country has been failing you for centuries, I am even more sorry that you have to explain this to people-you shouldn’t have to. For those who have been using your voices to educate, please know, if you haven’t realized already, how powerful and patient you are. I hope that those with whom you have shared your story with realize the blessing of your voice and time. I stand with you, yesterday, today and all of the tomorrows I am granted.

To my fellow white people, and other races educating themselves, and becoming part of this movement, thank you. This movement goes beyond George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, God rest their souls. This goes beyond police brutality. This is a fight to stop and end racism, a disease passed down from generation to generation in common spaces such as around dining room tables, BBQs, birthday parties, college dorm rooms etc. Racism is not something a child is born believing in, it is cultivated by the way someone grows up, the environment they live in, and the people they surround themselves with.

Growing up in North Jersey, attending seemingly all white schools, and living in all white neighborhoods, I didn’t begin to realize how much white privilege I had/have, and how easily I moved and still move through society. I was blessed with parents who have best friends who are black and raised me alongside their children, vacationing together and growing up in the world together. However, I still felt like I lived in a bubble, assuming the world had good intentions for all.

That was until Trayvon Martin was killed. A child the same age as me at the time. From there, my eyes only were drenched wider and wider as I grew older, and began to witness and experience racism first hand.

I realized very quickly, that standing up for black lives matter, voicing my opinions on social media platforms, and dating outside my race became a big problem for people absorbed with hate, racism, and prejudice. I began to be trolled online. People did not hesitate to tell me to my face how disgusting/unnatural they thought my relationship was. I was called horrendous names to my face. Drinks were thrown on me. I’ve been assaulted physically more than once. All of this because I had fallen in love outside of my own race, and believed that black lives deserved the rights that have been withheld from them for centuries. Now I say this to be very clear. I am PRIVILEGED that this is what happened to me. It is in my own privilege that this is ALL that happened to me. Even in the hardest moments, it is my whiteness that protected me through every experience and situation I have found myself in. My experiences are not even close to scratching the surface of what black people have experienced at the hands of racism. However, it is through these experiences that I recognized racism was not an ‘old problem’ and that ‘times have changed’. They haven’t, they have simply evolved and adapted, and need to be stopped.

I still sit here with many emotions, one being rage at the system, at racism, and at those who have sided with being silent, or choose to voice their ignorance and refuse to educate themselves. Yet I try and I find blessing in pain. I reflect back on my college years, on many scared nights, and bring them to my forefront to recognize it is because of what I went through that I do not have to hesitate before screaming. I am with you. I am blessed to have learned quickly without question that racism exists, and will exist unless we all come together to stop it. Seeing the diversity of those marching together, screaming together, hugging one another, it gives me another emotion. Hope. Hope that my children will be raised in a world, where all human beings will be treated equal, rights will be restored, and not another child will have to be born needing an explanation of how the world will treat them differently simply because of the way they look.

As white people, it takes more than feeling that people deserve to be treated better, we must take action to make SURE people are treated better. All lives cannot matter until black lives matter.

To stand up and to make an effective change knowing that it may cause uncomfortable conversations between you and others that are not as open minded or educated is part of the process. DO NOT BE AFRAID to say how you feel and spread your beliefs because you don’t want to get under fire from those ignorant and complacent, your dignity and moral code are worth more. It is OUR duty to educate others, and to do so in ways that can create open dialogue. As this is something I have been passionate about for many years, I too realized that allowing my passion to come through as anger to those close minded has not been affective and instead researching how to become a better educator and ally through level headed comments and conversations can be a better tool. Allyship is something that is a continuous commitment that does not end when you think you are ‘woke’ because you are anti-racist, it is a life long commitment to ensuring that you lift oppressed communities up, voice their opinions on your platforms, and condemn racist or prejudice behavior around you- always, and so much more.

So Please do what you can now, so we can share this hope, donate if you can, read, educate yourselves, sign petitions, call or email political officials, call out racist or prejudice behavior and educate those, hold people accountable for their behavior, do not stay silent, stay informed.

Kylie Stephenson
Social Worker
Morris County

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Robin Von Ohlsen
    commented 2020-06-11 20:51:28 -0400
    I’m so proud of you Kylie. I couldn’t find words – Carl and I discussed times when racism may of been present and we had not stood up or recognized. Thank you for you words of emotion and real life. May we all work better to love one another….all the time.