Today, I went for a walk in a neighborhood that is not mine. The sun was shining, the humidity was low, and there was a cool breeze making it an almost perfect morning. I watched cardinals flit from tree to tree and squirrels scurry in their pursuit of berries and nuts. Children rode bikes and blew bubbles in their driveways, laughing with an abandon that only children have. Fellow walkers and joggers smiled and waved as they passed. Gardeners asked, “How are you today?” and, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” as I walked by their homes.
My only worries this morning were, my failure to put on sunscreen, and if I was going to clean the kitchen when I returned home or put it off until later today (I put it off).
I did not worry about being stopped by a self-appointed neighborhood watch. I did not worry about slurs being hurled at me. I did not worry about someone thinking I was casing the neighborhood or their house. I did not worry about being told I do not belong. I did not worry about having to prove my citizenship. I did not worry about the police being called.
I did not worry that my children might become motherless because someone decided I looked suspicious. Nor have I ever worried about them becoming fatherless because of that same reason.
I DID NOT WORRY.
Why was I not worried?
I am white.
And with my whiteness comes the privilege of not worrying. I can walk in my neighborhood without worry. I can walk in someone else’s neighborhood without worry. I can do the hundreds, maybe thousands, of little things we all do, without worry.
Why should this be?
Why is this my privilege—and the privilege of those who look like me—and not a right for every human being?
Dear white people, understand our privilege. Listen to our brothers and sisters of color with an open mind and an open heart. Understand that we all have biases. Understand and recognize how those biases play a role in both institutional and in-your-face racism. Understand that every time an excuse is made as a way of explaining why something is not racist, we are perpetuating racism. Understand that it is our responsibility to look at ourselves honestly and critically, and to do better.
We owe it to our brothers and sisters of color, to our children, and to ourselves for EVERYONE to have the right to enjoy a Saturday morning walk free of worry.