It’s 12:30am and I cannot sleep. I just finished watching the Netflix documentary, 13th by Ava DuVernay, and so much of this movie has shaken me. I’m by no means a politically or socially ignorant person, however, my awareness and self-education in the two matters has largely taken place over the past 1/2 years. Watching this movie, I must come to terms with the fact that I (along with the rest of the US population) have been brainwashed into thinking that slavery was truly a construct of the past. That we live in a time, where there certainly are racial issues, but overall, we have overcome the fundamental issues of slavery. And we have not. We have revised the system many times and given it new names, the newest which is the mass incarcerations, the prison construct system. 1 in 3 black men will see prison in their lifetime. Will my husband, or my son be one of them?
As a white Muslim women, I have the privilege of taking off my Hijab, of taking off any garment that marks me as “other”, and can blend into the crowd of humanity in our nation. My gender might set me apart, but racially, I would not be viewed as a threat. My husband, not only has the strike of being a black man against him, he has a double strike against him as a Muslim black man. He does not have the luxury of taking off his skin color so that he does not immediately appear to be a criminal. Our children, while able to pass as white, would more than likely be identified as Latino or Hispanic of origin and therefor still carry some racial/ethnic stigma or burden that I myself as their mother would not have.
The problem that arises with this realization is: What can and should I do about this? Is confronting racism and discrimination whenever I encounter it truly enough? Can a Stay at home Mom of three children under 5, Full-time college student really make a difference? How much time do I have to devote to this issue to truly make a difference? If the world is run by (To quote my Sociology Teacher:) “old white men”, then can I as a white middle class woman really do much? There is so much hatred in this world, so much systemic discrimination, a complete us vs. them mentality that it is hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel.
But we must believe it is there. We must hold out hope, that even our tiniest actions, from teaching our children to love everyone equally, to helping that old Black/Hispanic/Asian lady with her groceries, will sprout the seeds of change that we need in our country right now. Only by picking up the phone and calling our representatives, by emailing them will our voices be heard. If there is a protest rally in your city, maybe you should contact the organizers to see if they need any supplies, a few cases of water? Might not be a bad idea of you can’t put in the hours of being there in person.