Letter to the Editor: Dear white people

Nathan Parker, Mount Shasta

We need to do better. Despite a national conversation on race awareness, Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) continue to be treated differently than white people in our country. This spans from prejudice at the workplace to fear of being killed while being pulled over for any reason. At the root of this is something called white supremacy and the privilege it bestows on those of us identified as white. If you think this doesn’t apply to you, you’re wrong. 

White privilege is something we were born with whether we chose it or not. It is not our fault. But it is our responsibility to understand it and open your eyes to how it affects the lives of those who are not white. White privilege is saying “everyone is equal and is treated equally in this country” when every BIPOC you ask will tell you differently. White privilege is being able to go on with our lives without acknowledging the problem because we don’t have to. White privilege is not living in fear. As I have spent more time investigating my own blindspots, I have discovered ways that I lean on my privilege that I had no awareness of. I have the option to ignore it, defend it or be ashamed, but with the same energy I can also change, grow and heal. 

If this topic makes you uncomfortable, I share your discomfort. We have been raised to not talk about race because it’s uncomfortable to acknowledge when we benefit while others do not. But if we are going to make a change in this country, we need to lean into that discomfort and push the boundaries in a new direction. Hard conversations need to happen at the dinner table and on public forums. 

What else can we do about it? We can start listening. BIPOC are telling us what needs to happen and we need to pay attention and trust them. You can also take an active part in your own education by reading books such as “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo or “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad. I am learning about this just like you, but one thing is clear to me: it is our responsibility to be the agents of change, not theirs. Wake up from complacency. Lives depend on it.

Nathan Parker,

Mount Shasta