Dear People of Color:
I owe you an apology.
I have been one of the white people who bit my tongue and stayed friendly to family members spouting racism and bigotry. I have convinced myself they were still “good people,” if “a little misguided.” I have accepted their invitations and acknowledged their milestones and kept my own queerness and disability in the closet so they would feel comfortable.
And they got so comfortable, they felt safe electing a proud KKK-endorsed racist to the presidency.
Would my taking them to task and shunning them have helped? I don’t know. We never will know, because I did not step up when I could have. When I should have.
I fucked up, and I contributed to fucking us all over. I apologize.
I’m stepping up now.
Dear White People:
I am a direct descendant of William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Plantation. I am also a direct descendant of a Scottish man named Harold Kennedy. You may not have heard of him, but in the 1690s, he claimed to own most of the Miami Valley.
I can, if I wish, claim membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of the Mayflower, and the First Families of Virginia. My ancestors have been here, in what we today call the United States, for over four hundred years. Not only did they benefit from the concept of Whiteness for that entire four-hundred-year stretch, they were instrumental in establishing “White” as a separate U.S. race. That’s right: my family helped invent Whiteness.
Understand where I am coming from, then, when I say: White people, you need to do better. You need to BE better.
If I can work every day to lay down four hundred years of unbroken, pedigreed ancestral privilege, so can you. If I can do better, you can do better. There is no excuse.