TIMES EDITORIAL: We never have, and we never will walk in their shoes

Mike Christopherson

If you are white, then you do not know what it is like to have any other skin color that qualifies as non-white. If you were born white, from the day you entered this Earth, to this moment right now that you are reading this, and probably until the moment you leave this Earth, you have in the past benefited from, are currently benefiting from and will continue to benefit from white privilege. It may rarely, if ever, be obviously apparent to you, but, don’t kid yourself, it’s there. Sadly, though, if recent events are any indication, it’s clear we should never underestimate the power of denial.

This doesn’t mean you need to feel guilty or ashamed. It doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of who you are. But it’s important to realize that we did nothing to earn this privilege, beyond being born with a light skin tone.

We need to practice empathy more. Much more. But just know that empathy only goes so far. Empathy is a great thing, for sure, and it’s appreciated by those whose life experiences we are trying to understand, and respect.

But if we are white, we will never take a single breath or walk a single step in this world and in this life as an African-American person, a Hispanic person, a Native American, or anyone who is not white and because they are not white they are often faced with daily challenges and uphill climbs that are steeper than the climbs we often face when we wake up and head out the door each morning to live another day. And let us not forget the particular fears they often feel that we as white people do not, and the dangers they often face just because of the color of their skin, that we do not face.

We’ve never worn their shoes. They’ve never had the opportunity to wear ours, either. So before white people try to fully grasp the perils that come with not being white, it’s important that we first acknowledge and understand the perils we don’t face because we are white.