Sorry is not enough

I’m sorry. But that’s not enough.

I’m a white cisgendered female. I grew up being told that good people “don’t see color,” and believing that, I erased others’ cultural identity and personal experience. By doing that, I fed the problem.

I’m sorry. But that’s not enough.

I decried racism and proclaimed we were all people of equal value, as if the same opportunities and helpful authority available to me were available to all. By doing that, I fed the problem.

I’m sorry. But that’s not enough.

I’ve been “woke” for a while now. The cold-blooded murder of Tamir Rice was what it took to smack my stubborn eyes open. (The news described an aggressive young man who looked 18, while the surveillance video revealed a playful child cut down for no reason beyond the color of his skin.) But realizing and being willing to talk about the problem isn’t enough.

Today, a black friend of mine posted a picture of himself, unsmiling, in a restaurant – the owners of which had chosen to decorate the walls with pastoral scenes of slaves picking cotton. As if it didn’t matter. As if human beings owned and treated like cattle was the delightful and nostalgic equivalent of pretty shepherdesses or farmers or untouched countryside.

He was expected to enjoy a relaxing meal surrounded by romanticized imagery of his ancestors’ enslavement.

And I broke. I’ve been weeping for an hour now, and I can’t seem to stop. Look: I didn’t MEAN to do harm by staying blind and comforting myself with some version of “all lives matter.” Look: I know that by myself I don’t have the kind of clout to cause change. Look: none of that matters.

Every time I excused some abuse and blamed the victim, I fed the problem.

Every time I chose to believe some pundit’s version of events instead of eyewitnesses’, I fed the problem.

I still don’t know what I can do beyond talking, praying, voting, and refusing to be silent. That doesn’t feel like enough. This isn’t about me. My tears don’t make a difference, either.

I don’t know what else to do, and I feel that this ignorance feeds the problem even more.

I’m sorry. But that is not enough.

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