Photo of Harriet Tubman
HOLY HERETIC DEVOTIONAL-Dec. 5, 2016-THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR THEM IN THE INN
Compiled by Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center Assistant Director, Reiki Master, and Empathic Psychic Kali Meister
“I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.”
I feel the core of the issue many white people have with the “Black Lives Matter” movement is that white privilege is a difficult concept for many of them to wrap their brains around. The issue is that many of these white people think the movement somehow devalues the needs of white people. That is not what it is. It is about the subtle system of racism that revolves specifically around skin color.
I understood this during a residency at Goddard with my friend Maria, who is black. She had locked hair at the time and needed oil for her hair, so we drove from campus into town to purchase some oil for her hair. I should add that this town was in Vermont, which is a incredibly progressive state. We went into every store that sold haircare products, yet none of them sold products for black hair. I found this maddening. Why could we not get her hair needs met at any drug store that carried hair care products?
Maria was bothered, but for the most part embracing the idea that we would not find what she needed. She then educated me on how this was not her first time experiencing a lack, or absence, of representation in product. It opened my eyes to a level of institutional racism that had never occurred to me before that moment. How privileged I had been. The world truly does revolve around the needs of white people.
This is what I finally saw:
• When I cut my finger and go to my school or office’s first aid kit, the flesh-colored band-aid generally matches my skin tone.
• When I stay in a hotel, the complimentary shampoo generally works with the texture of my hair.
• When I run to the store to buy pantyhose at the last minute, the “nude” color generally appears nude on my legs.
• When I buy hair care products in a grocery store or drug store, my shampoos and conditioners are in the aisle and section labeled “hair care” and not in a separate section for “ethnic products.”
• I can purchase travel size bottles of my hair care products at most grocery or drug stores.
• My skin color does not work against me in terms of how people perceive my financial responsibility, style of dress, public speaking skills, or job performance.
• People do not assume that I got where I am professionally because of my race (or because of affirmative action programs).
• Store security personnel or law enforcement officers do not harass me, pull me over or follow me because of my race.
• When I am told about our national heritage or “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
• The schools that I attend or have attended use standard textbooks, which widely reflect people of my color and their contributions to the world.
• When I look at the national currency or see photographs of monuments on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., I see people of my race widely represented and celebrated.
My entitlement and privilege allowed me to just expect my needs to be met whenever I need anything. People of color do not have that privilege, and that is what the “Black Lives Matter” movement boils down to; that people of color should be able to also expect to have their needs met. This country was created on the idea that ALL people should be embraced. There were no exceptions written into this concept. For this to truly happen white people must first be able to stand up and say we are privileged in this society and each effort to be more observant of our entitlement and reflect that in our actions in a way that allows an equal playing field for all of us.
Today’s Action: Be an observant bystander. Amplify the voices of people of color talking about race, racism, and white privilege on social media and in your community.
Today’s Sharing: Were you ever assertive about challenging racism in your community or workplace? Share your stories on our Facebook page at facebook.com/holyhereticzine
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