I am White.
I have spent the majority of my life explaining to people that “No, I’m not white…I’m Puerto Rican, I’m Hispanic…Yes, both of my parents are Puerto Rican…No, I’m not half white, I’m 100% Puerto Rican.”
But today, for this purpose, I am white. When it comes to race (not origin or ethnicity) the options are: American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White. So racially, I am white.
When people look at me they see pale skin; I rarely tan and always burn. Although there have been the very few instances where I have been discriminated against for being Hispanic (or, lets be real…discriminated against because I’m “Mexican”…yes, it happens…all Hispanics are assumed to be Mexican by some), the majority of my life I have been able to unknowingly slide by with ‘white privilege’.
I Will NEVER Fully Understand.
I won’t. I am not black. I do not have dark skin. I won’t know what it is like to know that on my family tree, the people who make me me, my family – slaves, were seen as property, less than a person. (Actually, I’m 99% sure that in my family history I have people who owned slaves in Puerto Rico.)
I will never understand what it is like to look into a mirror to see the face of my ancestors who were mistreated, beaten, and killed for the color of their skin.
I will never understand what it is like as a black man to see other black men still being killed by police in 2016.
I will never understand what it is like to live life as a black woman in a society that loves appropriating my culture but doesn’t embrace me as I embrace myself and my roots.
I will never know what it is like to be that same woman trying to raise black sons in a society that fears them before they know them.
I may have kids one day, who will be biracial, and will then have a different understanding but it will never be the same.
I will never fully understand. It is never going to happen, those are not the shoes I have walked in. I may see the inequalities, I may understand the history, and some people may argue that I “get it” more than most…but even if I do understand more than most I will never fully understand.
But, I Do Know.
What I do know is what it is like to have my closest friends be people of color and how I love them like they are family.
I know what it is like to have a cousin who when she was younger came home and put powder all over her face and the face of her dolls so they could be whiter.
I know what it is like to have every shade of white, brown, and everything in between make up my family.
I do know what it is like to be married to a black man.
What it was like the other night after seeing Lavish Reynold’s video, laying in bed with my husband’s brown arm around me and not having words to describe how I felt.
I know what it is like to see the pain in the eyes, hear the pain in the voices, and read the pain on social media from not just only my friends and family who happen to have more melanin in their skin than me, but of people of color in general, who are hurting!
I do not have to have a personal relationship with every person who voiced their pain to understand that there are deep wounds that are being ripped open every time something like this happens, each time disrupting the healing process again and again.
But, I know what it is like to genuinely weep with those who are weeping and what it is like to have tears in my eyes when I read the insensitive comments on social media completely missing every point every person of color I know is trying to make. Comments that completely invalidate the pain, frustrations, and anger that they feel.
I can only imagine how hurtful those comments are to my black friends.
I know what it feels like to have my heart break over recent events in the media. What it is like to cry over the videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and then cry again over the lives lost in Dallas. How frustrating it is to continually see the same thing played out in the media over and over and over again.
How tired I am of seeing black lives lost.
How exhausting it is to continually read and listen to people deny systemic racism and white privilege.
All of it.
But, you know what? All of that has not been my entire life for generations. So I can only imagine how much more tiring and frustrating and angering it must be for people of color. And here we are again, back to my original point. I will never fully understand because I am White.
But What can I do?
I can listen.
I can grieve with those who grieve. I can be honest about the fact that I won’t fully get it because I have walked life in a completely different pair of shoes. I can ask the Lord what the heck my role in all of this is. I can take my frustrations and pain and hurt to the Lord and try to process all of this. But while I pray and while I grieve, I can promise you I will continually try to better understand. And yes, I know all lives matter and blue lives matter…I completely agree! But right now, for me, its important to voice that #blacklivesmatter because #blacklivesmatter (too).
This original post was written by Lynette Beacher.
Lynette Beacher is a critical thinker who has recently begun putting those thoughts to paper, especially in the areas of social justice and interpersonal relationships. She lives her life as an open book using the good, the bad, and the ugly to mentor and disciple the young adults and women around her. As a pastor’s wife, Lynette doesn’t want others to look at her and perceive perfection as the standard. Instead, she wants others to see an imperfect person who is walking out her faith daily as she serves the Lord. She and her husband, Ryan, currently reside in North Central Florida but their hearts will always remain in New Orleans, Ryan’s hometown.