I am a woman born in the mid-20th century in Northern Europe. I am not African, Middle Eastern, Asian, nor am I Christian. I saw the biographical film about James Baldwin last night with two friends at the Women's Museum in San Diego. It drove home the truth of the past and present situation in the United States once again: a dire, systematic, brutal, oppressive, constant, blinding, discordant subjugation of some of our people by others of our people.
The awareness and realization that nothing will change unless and until we (you and I) change came home deep inside me once again. I'd read James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and Eldridge Cleaver when I was a kid and smugly thought I understood, with dollops of compassion, what the black experience was. I cannot, nor will I ever, know the reality of living in the United States since it was founded on principles of racism and subjugation, with those in power (and living in terror of the loss of that power) needing to believe that their fellow human beings with a skin color other than theirs are inferior beings, more akin to animals than humans.
Much of my focus over my lifetime has been an attempt to understand 'the other' as I do myself. Being an outsider helped me do this, however awkward and uncomfortable. It's important to be uncomfortable and hard. My discomfort is nothing compared to those who don't have a choice, but are "othered" their entire lives. I can slip in and out of ease, with ease.
My privilege...I believe I've inherited privilege and ignorance of that privilege. However much my attention and examination goes to my biases, I'm sure I have more that I'm unaware of. Such is the nature of being a white female, I guess. But I can try!