Letter for Monday, June 8, 2020

Speaking up, I can and will do better

If I am to be an ally, my bystander/avoid-conflict behavior must change.

I was taught in my social-justice studies that not speaking up is the same as tacit approval of the behavior.

As we learned from the AIDS epidemic, “Silence=Death.”

My part, when I hear racist, sexist, ableist, any kind of -ist language, is to speak my truth with compassion. Because I am focusing on becoming a better ally, yesterday (Saturday at the Black Lives Matter rally in Lihu‘e) I was met with multiple opportunities to query the speaker(s) about their words. In three cases, I did just that.

In one group discussion that occurred in my presence, I did not speak up. I was not part of the conversation and I chose to let it go on without my input. I knew the people involved and I could have jumped in. Why didn’t I? I am seriously asking myself this morning as I review yesterday’s events.

As always, I ask myself, “How could I have done that differently?” What if, when I overheard the standard phrase, “I don’t see color. We are all the same,” I had said, “I do. I see color.” Yes, we are all human. Our differences in DNA are minuscule. And yes, we are all one, individually expressing the divine in human form. BUT. Here’s the BUT. Our experiences are not the same.

My privilege allows me to go anywhere without fear of police or neighbors harassing or following me, yelling slurs, being afraid of me, judging me, beating me up or killing me. This is the privilege I experience as a white person in the United States of America.

I have occasionally been called a “(expletive) dyke” by strangers, which has created a sense of fear, but it is not my everyday experience. I have felt afraid as a woman in certain situations, and I have learned how to avoid them.

It is not my everyday experience. This is what I have learned today. It is a day-by-day thing, even moment by moment. I can do my best in each moment. I will make mistakes and I can always do better.

Sue Buckley, Kapa‘a

  1. Steven McMacken June 8, 2020 2:21 am Reply

    Very brave of you, Sue.

  2. ruthann jones June 8, 2020 4:55 am Reply

    Thank you, Sue

  3. RG DeSoto June 8, 2020 12:17 pm Reply

    “My privilege allows me to go anywhere without fear of police or neighbors harassing or following me, yelling slurs, being afraid of me, judging me, beating me up or killing me. This is the privilege I experience as a white person in the United States of America.”

    Don’t be so confident about that…more unarmed white people are shot and killed by the police than are blacks. Look it up that is the cold, hard fact. As far as the slurs, judging and beatings go…try being the only haole in a school here on Kauai in the 50s and 60s.
    I’m sick of the “privilege” thing…even more disgraceful when cast by you upon yourself.
    RG DeSoto

    1. Pete Antonson June 8, 2020 4:35 pm Reply

      The “privilege thing” is an established reality for current and future discourse. Nobody will care that you are sick of it. The rare experience of being a discriminated minority person, within the USA, that happens to be white, should make you either more thoughtful, or more bitter. That is a choice you can still overturn!

      1. RG DeSoto June 9, 2020 2:13 pm Reply

        “The “privilege thing” is an established reality for current and future discourse”
        It’s a phony construct and isn’t worth the effort to spit upon. Even more disgusting when some pathetic white person does the PC self flagellation thing with it…perhaps assuaging some deep-seated, irrational & pathological guilt.
        What’s your excuse, Pete?
        RG DeSoto

        1. Are thee Despoto? June 9, 2020 3:12 pm Reply

          I wish I were perfect, too.

        2. RevW June 11, 2020 11:59 pm Reply

          RG: Wow – “privilege thing / phony construct” … “even more disgusting”…”pathetic white person” … “PC self flagellation” … “deep seated, irrational & pathological guilt”. What a lot of anger and self contradictions, especially from someone who has experienced discrimination by virtue of being “a (pathetic) white person”. Privilege and discrimination aren’t absolutes. They are variable, depending on where you are both geographically and societally.

          “assuaging some deep-seated, irrational & pathological guilt.” ? Does that include everybody who can see some reality to the idea of privilege – not just the current *white male privilege version*? It’s not necessary to be that sort of psychologically deranged to be uncomfortable with being treated *better* than others because of your race / gender / religion / etc, or to recognize that it’s contextual. It’s also about probabilities, and profiling within context.

    2. Pete Antonson June 8, 2020 5:05 pm Reply

      The problem with the smoking stats are that Blacks make up 12.3% (US Census) of the population, but 26.4% of deaths by police. Whites make up 60% of the population, but 50% of the deaths. Hispanics make up 18% and 18% of deaths.
      People of color clearly are more at risk; but, you left this out.

    3. Joel kauffman June 8, 2020 6:54 pm Reply

      Your comment is incorrect on a per capita basis black men are over twice as likely as white men to be killed by police. https://www.pnas.org/content/116/34/16793

  4. RG DeSoto June 10, 2020 8:21 am Reply

    In 2019 55 unarmed people were shot and killed by the cops. Of those 14 (25%) were black; 41 (75%) were white. There were 1003 people shot and killed by police. 601 people were armed with a gun (Includes all races)–165 were black; 237 were white. In the armed category does it really matter what race the people were? And moreover, what % of violent crimes are committed by blacks vs whites?
    In 2018 for murder and non-negligent manslaughter 44% were committed by whites; 53% by blacks. These are certainly different than the % of each race.
    The above figures are from the FBI crime statistics database.
    The most disturbing of all the statistics is the number of unarmed people of all races that are shot and killed by the police…this is what we should be looking at as well and lends credence to ALM approach. But even that number-55-is comparatively low at 5% of all fatal encounters for all races.
    It’s important to keep an objective perspective on this whole issue.
    RG DeSoto
    RG DeSoto

    1. Pete Antonson June 10, 2020 8:49 pm Reply

      I’ll approach the subject at your level:

      A guy came up to me and asked: “Do you think DeSoto is right?”
      I said: “I think ALL people are silly!” APAS

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