Margaret – I had assumed if I wrote again, it would mostly likely be about Hillary. But watching all this violence in Baltimore unfolding on the television moves me to write this instead. Normally I would tell you that when it comes to racial issues, an old white woman from Georgia probably should keep her mouth shut and her opinion to herself. In fact, that’s probably a good idea for white people everywhere because we really probably will just say a whole lot of stupid if we open our mouths right now. But you know me, I have never known when to just shut up…
HERE IS MY WHITE STORY:
About 60 years ago my husband and I scraped together every penny we had to buy a small but lovely home in a safe neighborhood with good schools. Our children had a lovely childhood. They got a good education and always knew that going to college was an achievable goal. The worst thing that ever happened in our neighborhood was a bad divorce or a scandalous affair. Murders and robberies happened across town. And when that happened we spoke of it in hushed tones as we smoked fancy cigarettes and drank iced tea on the back porch. Our children all graduated from college, married and had families of their own. Our grandchildren are repeating the cycle and we even have some great-grandchildren who will continue to do well long after I am dead and gone.
HERE COULD HAVE BEEN MY STORY IF I WAS A BLACK WOMAN:
About 60 years ago my husband and I would have tried to scrape together enough money to buy a small but lovely home in a safe neighborhood with good schools. Unfortunately the banks would not approve a mortgage for us and the neighborhood we wanted was restricted anyway. Our children would never truly feel the American dream was about them. The schools they attended would be poorly funded and under-achieving in every way. As hard as I tried to hide it from them, they would know that a life of crime, drugs and violence was a real possibility and it probably would pay better than any job they could get. Fearing authority would come more easily than trusting it. Some of them might overcome the odds but more than likely they would repeat a life of near poverty and almost but not quites… College would be possible but nearly twice as many of their white friends would see that happen rather than their black friends. They would have been called the n-word in various forms many times in their life and they would know that 1 in every 15 African American men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men. When my family eventually celebrated the election of the first black President… we would have done so knowing he might be the last for many years to come. My grandchildren and great-grandchildren might fare slightly better, but only slightly and only if they were very lucky.
- According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
- Students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated.
- The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses.
- Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders.
- Voter laws that prohibit people with felony convictions to vote disproportionately impact men of color.
- Studies have shown that people of color face disparities in wage trajectory following release from prison
Having written this, I know I should probably erase and just turn off this computer. But you know me… This Whitey really doesn’t fully understand what is happening in Baltimore. What I have written here is not meant as an excuse for the violence, but it certainly is a reason to look beyond the violence and try to see the truths behind it.
I know there is no excuse for violence and that it won’t solve the problem. I know that you don’t put out the fire in your kitchen by starting one in your living room. But I also know I have never known and might never know someone in a gang. And I personally will probably never know anyone who has been shot at or killed by a bullet outside of a war zone. My life is very sheltered and my opinion is, therefore, very narrow.
The images I see on television don’t even remotely relate to my reality. I am old but not so old that this is posthumous but definitely post-humorous. Yes. I really should have just kept my opinion to myself. Unfortunately, a 24-hour never-ending news cycle made that very, very hard to do. I mean it… Really.