I’m writing this because we can’t go through another breaking point. We are already broken. There is talk that our cities will never recover right now—and that’s a terrifying thought—but I worry more about the people of the cities, the people of suburbs, and the people of rural towns. My neighbors in Brewerytown are terrified. We spent time yesterday to talk about the protests and the wake of the events that are still unfolding before us in Philadelphia.
We talked about George Floyd, about cops, about riots, and looting, and then we talked about white skin, black skin, and the color we both bleed. And then I listened.
I listened as a mother and daughter talked about their fears of destruction plowing through our neighborhood at night, about how heartbreaking it is to have been silenced to the point where some feel the need to break out. I listened as another woman was visibly shaken over the idea of armed national guardsmen storming up our street. I listened because I’ve been heard for my entire life and not everyone has.
The way I have coasted in life does not leave a major wake in my trail. I’ve regrettably, rarely gone out of my way to implement change. I hear about the tragedies of our world and my heart aches, feeling as if I can’t do anything substantial to help, and then I forget. I catch, I care, and I throw. It’s a cycle that I am privileged to live in as I vote for individuals I hope will do beneficial things for groups who have been wronged, donate a few dollars to those who need it, and retreat into the priceless comfort of my own skin. Catch, care, throw. But I can do more. White people can do more.
I’ve believed I have been a good person throughout my life—following the rules, standing up for people who have been wronged, generally treating people with kindness as I can—but I’ve realized that this does not make me a great person. I happened to be born with one of the most enduring privileges in the world; white skin. Like everyone, the color of my skin was not my choice, but my choice in the privileges it allows me are, so if I can use those beneficially for others, I want to.
I love this city. Despite moving to Philly when I was 21, I had no idea who I was before I grew up here. I had never felt such an overwhelming sense of “home” before my first few bike rides along the old streets. I had also never felt the sense of struggle as I battled myself to uncover my sexual orientation here. Still, I found the tallest rooftops, looked out over the rivers and developed land, and I felt the breeze that drifts between buildings blow against my face. This was my place. These are my people—all of them.
Now, at nearly 27, I have no doubt that I will do more growing up, and it’s already started. I am here to listen. I will assist whoever I can to break down our system where it is unjust. If you have a story that needs to be told, you have a friend here. Let’s catch, educate, change. Let’s support those who deserve to be lifted, and break down the system of oppression that shouldn’t be standing today. The world deserves better and we need to deliver.