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Talk about It and Why Don’t I Call Myself White

Mark Kollar  Follow

We are all learning a lot about race and race relations in America as we “watch” what is unfolding in Minneapolis and across the country.  As a white man, I cannot fully understand or appreciate the feelings and fears of what it’s like to be a black person in America today.  That’s pretty obvious.

What became less obvious and more difficult for me to stomach over the last few days is how I and probably many people like me look at – or better yet – understand race.

When asked to identify myself, I say that I am a gay married father. I don’t immediately identify myself as white.  Perhaps I think of it as unremarkable part of my identity. Let’s call it privilege.

To be honest, I did not have this epiphany on my own.  I was recently asked the question and then questioned on why I did not say white and then reminded that any person of color would likely say black or brown or Asian as the first word to identify him or herself.  That’s a big difference and a lesson learned.  Race has not been a big part of my vocabulary or something I even think about very often.

Woke? Not a chance. But I learned something this weekend, not from watching TV but having conversations with people about what this really means. Many people are asking what is a good first step.  Pretty simple:  Talk.  And listen. It will be difficult and uncomfortable at times and we may often feel unsure of what or how to say something.  We will make people angry but we will help comfort some.  

More important, we will learn a lot not just about ourselves but others and what issues they face.  And we may also realize that we have many ways to identify ourselves and that we have many links and connections among all of us. 

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