Thursday, July 7, 2016

White Privilege

When I was 19 years old my uncle shot his daughter, my 2 year old cousin Christina, ten times. Why doesn't really matter. Whatever the reason- and there were competing opinions on that, believe me- someone precious died. For a long time I was so full of rage that I couldn't really even mourn her. I just wanted some kind of vengeance, for him to suffer and die, my kingdom for the death penalty! I loathed him with every fiber of my being and could barely stand the feel of his name in my mouth, even when it belonged to another Andy entirely. I forbade my family from sharing pictures of my babies with him when they visited him in prison. I didn't want him to see them. He didn't deserve to. It was only the second time in my life I'd hated someone and after about 8 years of stewing in my own bile I realized that I hated the hating possibly even more than I hated him. I hold grudges because in my experience they don't weigh much but this? It lessened me. Hating made me hard sometimes, mean sometimes. Less empathetic, less of a human being. Andy got 60 years in prison. He's served 22 years of his sentence and I don't know if he'll ever get out. I don't know if I want him to. What I do know is that I'm glad the state didn't kill him. I'm glad they did not give me the vengeance I thought I wanted.

I'm thinking about this because I know with certainty that if Andy had been black? I never would have had a chance to outgrow my hate. He wouldn't have made it into custody because they'd have shot him in the neighborhood he was wandering while carrying her dead body. Andy was guilty by every conceivable metric yet he was arrested safely- he has lived safely- all these years in part because he was white. That's privilege.

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