I will not apologize for being born white. For this, I had no control. To say that I am privileged without knowing me, could be considered ignorant. I am aware that the hand that I was dealt was decent, I won’t apologize for this either. It is how we play our hand that counts, choices and directions could be abundant. A change of circumstance can happen in an instant or consistently throughout a lifetime.
I am both grateful and proud to say that I come from a humble middle class family in rural New Hampshire. The circumstances that surrounded my upbringing didn’t happen because I was white. They were created. I had a loving mother and father who were present in my life and who showered me with unconditional love. I won’t downplay this or apologize for it. I am grateful for my early and sturdy foundation, not sorry for it.
Good parenting, marriages and families don’t just happen. They require work. It takes varying degrees of patience, ups, downs, growth, acceptance, determination and this is a non-stop, full-time commitment. My good upbringing didn’t happen because my family was white. To say this, would be a disservice to my folks. Good family circumstance happen through right choices that are combined with a strong moral compass and accountability. This takes hard work, sacrifice and piles of love. As a child, I didn’t think that I was exceptionally fortunate. I simply felt love and supported endlessly, the unspoken and beastly work of dedicated humans. As an adult, I know that I was lucky. I’m still not apologizing. I was the recipient of a nice childhood put together, year after year, by well-intended people. I won’t apologize for their goodness or take credit for it, either. These individuals taught me excellent work ethic, community-mindedness and to do right versus wrong. These weren’t always ‘sit down and listen’ lessons but they were taught by example. They were not perfect. I’m not perfect, nor are my two brothers. We are humans who navigate like humans, growing from our choices, challenges and changing chapters. Our parents taught us how to be productive in society. We have continuously worked, since we were all 16, at least. We are college educated, have happy families and positively contribute to the small worlds we live in. We’re kind, considerate, respectful and inclusive. I celebrate this. I don’t apologize for the life I was born into, where I developed good human traits from. I am humbled and thankful.
This unapologetic white girl will, however, stand beside my fellow humans who are hurting and I will help. I will acknowledge wrong doings, use my life in ways to progress other humans – no matter what color they are. My heart puts no race, no gender and no person above another. I will disagree when I need to, based on what I believe to be true and I will never follow the herd. I will think freely and try to look through a lens without predetermining what I want to see. I will do the right things and stand against the wrongs. I will not righteously shame or judge another’s life. That is the individual’s job. They must look within themselves and view their choices, while basking in their carved out lives, feeling their rights and wrongs. This is not a spectator sport, it’s a personal journey for one.
I will continue to pursue happiness each day and seek ways that I can positively impact others. I won’t lie, steal or cheat. I will, inevitably, continue to be imperfect and make mistakes. I will live with them, through them and learn from them. This is not because I am white. I will not try to change others.
It is not our job to change anyone. If someone is a racist, this is their choice, a choice made by a weak, unhappy and unenlightened individual. They will never have peace, as long as their actions are putting others down. Putting other people down never truly raises another (read that last line again – not only racists do this). Racists live in their own tormented hell of unsettledness and lack of humanity. This is on them. Our focus should be on the changeable things in life.
As a human race, we are wildly different and this is the beauty of life. I love the combined texture that our collective blending makes. Being Americans is our shared strength, why do we keep forcing a divide? Will we ever be equal? I’d like to think yes, but I doubt it – we cannot change people, they have to want to change. However, our individual journeys, side by side can be enormously powerful, as we create our positive and productive places in society, play the hell out of our hands and respect each other without exception. Comparison is the thief of joy, while authentic joy comes from the complete love and ownership of one’s life.
Please don’t judge this white girl by comparing our challenges. Mine are mine and yours are yours and it shouldn’t matter what color we are. They should be equally respected. I’ll share just a few of mine. I lost my father when I was 26, this moment created a huge deficit in my life. My husband and I struggled with infertility for years and eventually had a son. We struggled with infertility again. We adopted our daughter from Guatemala. We dedicated ourselves to a business for 17 years, exhausting our bodies, minds and bank accounts resulting in its closure and loss of our entire financial life. Here is the common thread, I never gave up on myself, my dreams or the example that I want to be for my children. I never stopped trying and rose to challenges, in order to become better. I’ve used my life and have been an advocate for health and wellness. It’s my belief that stress killed my father at 58. Exercise can reduce stress considerably, I’ve been motivating others toward better health for over 25 years. I love my kids as hard and as deep, as is humanly possible. I have taken responsibility for my professional and personal choices. Even when I thought I had been served the biggest crap sandwich from my beloved hometown, where we had our business. I swallowed it down and moved forward. Was I clunky while navigating the shit storm? You’re damn right I was. I stayed mad too long, held out on forgiveness and become a martyr for awhile. Then I realized that the mad was just my sad. I’m thankful for the blessed grace that was created from harder times. None of my challenges or triumphs have anything to do with the color of my skin. I take full credit for my life as a human being.
I will unapologetically pursue happiness, each day. I will continue to wake up with gratitude, satisfaction and not apologize. I have worked, every damn day to feel this way and the color of my skin has nothing to do with it. This has to do with my choices, my upbringing by good people and my undying belief that a majority of people are really, really good.
So to those who want me to check my white privilege, kindly mind your own life, no offense intended. You do you, while I’ll be busy doing my best me.