Injustice and Privilege: What it Means to Me

As someone who cares deeply about this world, I sometimes take on its problems as my own. While I normally see this as a disadvantage, sometimes it can be a blessing that lights a fire within me to be used for good.

Image via mprnews.org

I remember when the video of George Floyd’s final moments surfaced on Facebook. I first saw the thumbnail image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George’s neck. It was pure evil. Full of hatred. How could I possibly watch the full video? My husband told me it was very disturbing and graphic, but felt it was necessary to watch. Finally, I clicked on the link and watched George beg for his life over and over again; I felt physically sick to my stomach.

The level of hatred these cops had towards George is unfathomable. Chauvin was quiet yet arrogant; he didn’t show any hesitation while he slowly choked the life out of George. Then afterwards, his body language was calm and laid back as if he had simply stopped to wipe something off his shoe before walking back to his police car.

Derek Chauvin’s smug demeanor is indicative of a serious problem of hatred and police brutality on the black community. While I know there are plenty of kind and caring police officers out there, we cannot ignore how common it is for black people to be profiled, mistreated and oppressed.

I’m even more heartbroken to hear that two of the officers involved had records filled with offenses and were still allowed to practice.

In what job are you given that many chances? Especially in a field where the stakes are high and you’re supposed to protect people – why were they allowed to continue being police officers?

George and many others should still be alive. This could and should have been prevented. But instead, it happened again; it seems to be a regular occurrence that black men and women are dying from encounters with police. Many of these instances driven by fear, prejudice and malice.

It’s alarming that we live in a world with this level of evil in it. That too often, officers show absolutely no regard or value for human life.

Image via mprnews.org

I know people from all over the world are trying to make sense of this and better understand what is happening. This particular death ‘hit home’ for me literally because it occurred in my home state of Minnesota, only 30 minutes from where we live. Large parts of the city burned to the ground. It was difficult to see small business owners and families suffer as a consequence of Derek Chauvin’s actions.

If this video was as difficult for you to watch as it was for me, can YOU imagine feeling powerless to fight for your life as an officer holds you down and cuts off your air supply? I’ve thought about it because seeing it from his perspective helps me understand and gives me empathy.

Most of us won’t have to endure this horrific fate, but we desperately need to understand it and be able to put ourselves in the shoes of the black community.

If this video doesn’t stir up anger and emotion, then what will it take?

How many more will have to die before your eyes are open to the racism and hatred in this country?

When does racial profiling and prejudice end?

They have tried to get our attention. It hasn’t worked yet. Why? Because admittedly, many of us in the white community have been uncomfortable to speak up or naive to think it will suddenly stop. It won’t.

This will continue until we stand up against injustice and start to change things and rebuild. It’s a long process with many little steps. It will not change overnight, but if we work together and each do our part, we can truly change this country.

I’ve listened to speakers from the black community say over and over that white allies are essential to changing our system.

We have a responsibility…not to be defensive. Not to justify the actions of the white community, but to start listening, understanding, and making changes in our own heart and home first.

I’ve read personal stories on how paralyzing the fear can be for a black mother and father. They shouldn’t have to raise their kids in this environment.

Image via Unsplash

I also want to clarify that although I was shocked by the video, I’m not shocked that racism and police brutality exists. I know it does, but I would not be truthful if I said I thought about it all the time. It now makes me better understand what it means to be “privileged.”

I am privileged for not having to worry about my safety.

I’m privileged that these types of issues don’t plague my mind, but perhaps they should.

I’m privileged that I could confidently call the police without fearing for my own life.

I’m privileged that my kids won’t be looked at as an automatic threat due to the color of their skin.

I‘m privileged that I happened to be born into a white family. I see now that this automatically gives me an advantage in life that others don’t have.

As I mentioned above, I think the first step for the white community is to simply LISTEN and UNDERSTAND. This is the first of many changes we should make. This will take time.

Then we need to examine our own hearts – God can help us examine any impurities or hints of prejudice. This step of awareness is a huge leap forward.

As parents, we need to teach our kids that every life and person is important, no matter our differences. I promise to all the families of black children that I WILL do my part.

I won’t stay silent on the topic of racism.

I WILL address prejudice, profiling, and privilege.

I WILL teach love and compassion.

I WILL do my part as a white mother to ensure black children feel more loved and protected.

While focusing on setting this example and living this mission within my family, I will work on standing up for injustice, becoming the essential ‘white ally’ that is needed and carrying it out into the community.

Author: Kelley Spencer

I'm a Christian writer, mother, gardener, traveler, lover of the outdoors and mental health advocate. My personal story of miscarriage and grief will be published in a book by Dayspring this fall called Sweet Tea for the Soul: Comforting, Real-Life Stories for Grieving Hearts. I'm in the planning stages of writing my first book about my experience with mental illness and faith. My mission is to encourage others to pursue God wholeheartedly when life hurts. Follow along for relatable faith stories, Bible reading tips, motherhood insight, and inspiration to explore this world through travel.

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